During the last few decades, the world has witnessed many natural and man-made disasters and crises. Recent earthquakes, flash floods and tsunamis are good examples of these emergency situations. Even with all of man’s technological advancements, we are able to predict or prepare in a few rare instances only. Whatever the case, the ensuing humanitarian crisis is no doubt overwhelming for all those involved.
With every experience, our nations are learning and improving their services and aid. Through technological advancements, they are learning to cope better. They are able to respond faster and have emergency protocol that is immediately implemented. Resources are flown in, help centres set up and temporary shelter provided. But one of the really necessary and important facilities required by such people is access to clean water and proper sanitation. These needs must be fulfilled to ensure that no epidemics spread and that people are able to maintain good hygiene. This is where portable lavatories/toilets come in.
Portable Lavatories / Toilets
The difference between a conventional toilet and a portable toilet is that the latter has no outside attachments. It is not connected to any drainage systems or pipelines. The water supply is provided within the room itself and the waste is stored in the tank. This feature allows it to be moved to where and whenever necessary. Thus, this is the absolute need during a natural disaster where homes are destroyed and people are stranded in tents or other buildings. The toilets can be moved from one place to another if any emergency occurs or any danger is detected.
From Primitive to Polymers
The first portable toilets were made during World War II to be used by crews on ships. They were made of metal and wood and were rather heavy. They were also difficult to clean. Due to the fact that waste is stored in the toilet itself, bad odours could not be avoided. But this changed with the introduction of the ‘blue liquid’ or deodorizer that was added to the toilet bowls. The first deodorizers based on formaldehyde but have now developed into a chemical that inhibits bacterial growth and reduces bad odour.
The invention of plastic and lighter materials like polymers, changed the construction of these toilets for the better. They became lighter and easier to clean. They could also be moved and transported easily. Later on, fibre glass toilets were introduced. Although there were some advantages, there was a danger of damage during transportation. They were also dark and absorbed odours.
The 1970’s saw the introduction of Polyethylene toilets. These were more durable and efficient. They were also made of different parts, so it was easier to transport and assemble from place to place. These are the toilets that are in the market now.