Studying Septic Systems

Amy Kryston sits in front of her computer, running dataAmy Kryston, the inaugural recipient of the UNC Institute for the Environment’s Environmental Justice Graduate Research Award, studies the relationship between on-site sanitation, health and social drivers of health in North Carolina communities.

“Sanitation is a human right,” Kryston, a second-year master of public health student in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, explained. “It’s so intimately tied to the concept of dignity and what makes us human and worthy of respect.”

North Carolina poses many interesting sanitation issues. Nearly 50% of all households rely on septic systems, over twice the national average. Some rural communities in North Carolina even rely on straight pipes to dispose of sewage, which affects both the health of the community and the environment.

Straight pipes are an infrastructure that releases raw sewage from a household or property directly into the surrounding environment without being treated, according to Kryston.

She hopes that this project can provide insights for future work and advocacy for safe sanitation in other parts of the United States.

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