Humanure is a valuable resource suitable for agricultural purposes and has been recycled for such purposes by large segments of the world's human population for thousands of years.
However, humanure contains the potential for harboring human pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasitic worms or their eggs, and thereby can contribute to the spread of disease when improperly managed or when discarded as a waste material. When pathogenic raw humanure is applied to soil, pathogenic bacteria may continue to survive in the soil for over a year, and roundworm eggs may survive for many years, thereby maintaining the possibility of human reinfection for lengthy periods of time.
However, when humanure is thermophilically composted, human pathogens are rapidly destroyed, and the humanure is thereby converted into a hygienically safe form, suitable for soil applications for the purpose of human food production.
Thermophilic composting requires no electricity and therefore no coal combustion, no acid rain, no nuclear power plants, no nuclear waste, no petrochemicals, and no consumption of fossil fuels. The composting process produces no waste, no pollutants, and no toxic by-products. Thermophilic composting of humanure can be carried out century after century, millennium after millennium, with no stress on our ecosystems, no unnecessary consumption of resources, and no garbage or sludge for our landfills. And all the while it will produce a valuable resource necessary for our survival while preventing the accumulation of dangerous and pathogenic waste. If that doesn't describe sustainability, nothing does.
Source: The Humanure Handbook. Jenkins Publishing, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127. To order, phone: 1-800-639-4099.