PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 People in ancient Rome 2,000 years ago had better access to clean water and sanitation that keeps disease-causing human excrement out of contact with people than many residents of the 21st century, a scientist said here today.
Women in developing countries could play a major role in remedying the situation, if given the chance, she added. Jeanette A. Brown, Ph.D., spoke on the global crisis in availability of clean water and basic sanitation like toilets and sewage disposal at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. It was part of a symposium, "International Sustainable Development: Institutional Frameworks." Abstracts of other presentations appear below.
The ACS meeting continues here through Thursday in the Pennsylvania Convention Center and downtown hotels. It features 8,600 presentations on new advances in science and other topics, and ACS expects an anticipated attendance of 14,000 scientists and others.
"It's a sad fact that much of the world's population in 2012 has less access to clean water and the most basic sanitation than people living in ancient Rome," said Brown. "About 2.6 billion people almost 1 in 3 people in the world ― lack access to even a simple 'improved' latrine, or pit toilet. More people have access to a cell phone today than to a toilet."
Brown said the lack of sanitation and clean water, especially in developing countries of sub-Sahara Africa and south Asia, claims an enormous toll in preventable illness, death and human suffering every year. She is with the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and is immediate past president of the Water Environment Federation, an international organization of water quality professionals headquartered in Alexandria, Va. E
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