PNG images: Toilet

A toilet is a sanitation fixture used for the storing or disposal of human urine and feces. Toilets can be with or without flushing water (flush toilet or dry toilet). They can be set up for a sitting posture or for a squatting posture (squat toilet). Flush toilets are connected to a sewer system in most urban areas and to septic tanks in less built-up areas.

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In many countries, private homes are designed with the flush toilet and the bath or shower in the same room, the bathroom, to simplify plumbing and reduce cost. Other cultures find this insanitary, and have one room for body-washing and a separate room for excretion. Public toilets are installed where their use is expected on a permanent basis, while portable toilets or chemical toilets may be brought in for large but temporary gatherings.

In many developing countries, especially in rural areas, dry toilets such as pit latrines and composting toilets remain common. Dry toilets are usually placed in outhouses, i.e. not inside the dwelling, and should be located away from sources of drinking and bathing water. Many poorer households in developing countries having no access to a toilet at all, leading to open defecation.

Serious waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea occur when open defecation or poor sanitation permits human waste to pollute water supplies. Sanitation includes the provision of toilets. Historically, sanitation has been a concern from the earliest stages of human settlements. For the most part, early cities emptied their waste into rivers or seas manually or via open ditches. Sanitation in ancient Rome was notably advanced, but emptying of chamber pots into city streets continued into the modern era.

A typical flush toilet is a ceramic bowl (pan) connected on the "up" side to a cistern (tank) that enables rapid filling with water, and on the "down" side to a drain pipe that removes the effluent. When a toilet is flushed, the sewage should flow into a septic tank or into a system connected to a Sewage treatment plant. However, in some countries, this treatment does not happen.

The plumbing is key. The water in the toilet bowl is connected to a pipe shaped like an upside-down U. One side of the U channel is arranged as a siphon tube longer than the water in the bowl is high. The siphon tube connects to the drain. The bottom of the drain pipe limits the height of the water in the bowl before it flows down the drain. The water in the bowl acts as a barrier to sewer gas entering the building. Sewer gas escapes through a vent pipe attached to the sewer line.

The amount of water used by conventional flush toilets usually makes up a significant portion of personal daily water usage. However, modern low flush toilet designs allow the use of much less water per flush. Dual flush toilets allow the user to select between a flush for urine or feces, saving a significant amount of water over conventional units. The flush handle on these toilets is pushed up for one kind of flush and down for the other. In some places, users are encouraged not to flush after urination. Flush toilets can be plumbed to use Greywater (previously used for washing dishes, laundry and bathing) rather than Potable water (drinking water). Some modern toilets pressurise the water in the tank, which initiates flushing action with less water usage.

Flush toilets, when used on ships, are typically flushed with seawater. Another variant is the pour-flush, flush toilets lacking a cistern, which are flushed manually with a few litres of a small bucket. This type of low-cost toilet is common in many Asian countries. It can use as little as 2–3 litres, and this can be greywater or rainwater.

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