Nearly half a million Americans get along without a flushing toilet

Nearly half a million Americans get along without a flushing toilet

[Ed. – I might have thought it was even higher.  Granted, my last swings through Alaska and rural Idaho were quite a while ago.]

The problem overwhelmingly affects sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, but Census data shows 1,136,157 U.S. households were still using outhouses in 1990 because they lacked access to a public or private sewer or septic tank. In 2014, almost half a million U.S. households still did not have complete plumbing facilities, defined as having access to all of these items: hot and cold running water, a toilet that flushes, and a shower or bathtub.

We don’t have national data on outhouses any more — the last time Americans were asked about where their ablutions ended up was 25 years ago, in 1990. Back then, a massive 12 percent of Alaskan households, or 27,817 homes, admitted they used an outhouse to do their dirty work. Vast, chilly Alaska had almost three times more outhouses per capita than any other state. Next in line was West Virginia, where 4.4 percent of all households used an outhouse, followed by 3.8 percent in Kentucky.

The U.S. Census Bureau did not ask Americans about their septic system in the 2000 or 2010 Census, an Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson told Vocativ in an email, but the 2014 American Community Survey — which used a sample of 55,000 households — allowed them estimate that 480,278 did not have complete plumbing facilities.

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