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ISO Releases Standard, Two-Step Solution to Improve Sanitation for 2.4 Billion People


Without access to good sanitation, safety, productivity, and the livelihood of human civilization is at risk. During the recent World Toilet Day—which focused on the theme toilets and jobs— the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) highlighted how standards will help improve global health, reduce the environmental impact of wastewater treatment, and offer affordable options for users and communities to help improve the lives of 2.4 billion people who currently lack access to proper sanitation.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the U.S. member body to ISO and is committed to the advancement of sanitation through its work focused on sustainable non-sewered sanitation systems, also known as “next-generation toilets.” As ANSI has previously reported, lack of safe and private toilets across the globe is associated with violent crime and deadly diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 2 billion people have no access to safe, clean toilets, which leads to widespread damaging impact: An estimated 1 million preventable deaths per year are associated with diseases contracted from unsanitary conditions.

ISO’s two-pronged approach includes the new ISO standard ISO 24521, Activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services — Guidelines for the management of basic on-site domestic wastewater services, which includes:

- guidelines for the management of basic on-site domestic wastewater services from the operator's perspective, including maintenance techniques, training of personnel and risk considerations;

- guidelines for the management of basic on-site domestic wastewater services from the perspective of users;

- guidance on the design and construction of basic on-site domestic wastewater systems; and

- guidance on planning, operation and maintenance, and health and safety issues.

ISO 24521 was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 224, Service activities relating to drinking water supply systems and wastewater systems – Quality criteria of the service and performance indicators. Thirty-five countries including the United States participate in the committee’s work. U.S. input to TC 224 is coordinated by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the committee. AWWA is an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

The second part of the solution includes future standards for next-generation toilet technologies, and for sanitation treatment systems. In September 2016, ISO published an International Workshop Agreement (IWA) that will serve as the basis for the development of a new international standard for sustainable non-sewered sanitation systems. The document will serve as the working draft for new ISO Project Committee 305, Sustainable non-sewered sanitation systems, which is focused on the development of the International Standard in this area. ANSI serves as the secretariat to PC 305 with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Also in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ANSI intends to submit to ISO an IWA Proposal on the subject of community based resource oriented sanitation treatment systems. The goal of this effort would be to provide an efficient starting point for international standardization on a system to safely process human waste and possibly household waste and recover valuable resources such as water, energy, and/or nutrients through economically sustainable technologies in an off-grid and non-sewered environment.

The expected date of publication of the IWA is March 2018. Stakeholders interested in reading the proposal can contact the ANSI ISO Team ( All comments should also be sent to by Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

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