A Brand New Lab

Last year, SOIL treated and transformed more than 500 metric tons of waste into agricultural-grade compost in a process that follows standards set by the World Health Organization for the safe treatment of human waste.

Though studies have time and time again demonstrated that SOIL’s treatment processes are effective, we test every batch of compost for pathogens before it hits the market so that we can guarantee each bag sold is safe and ready to be used to help farmers grow lush, bountiful crops.

SOIL isn’t able to use a private lab in Cap-Haïtien to do all of the testing that we need, so we conduct these tests in-house at our very own lab. When SOIL made the decision to move our Cap-Haïtien office earlier this spring, we decided to rebuild the lab (which had previously been situated in our main office) directly onto SOIL’s waste treatment site. This allows us to reduce the transportation costs for materials and staff that had previously needed to move across two sites and it increases our efficiency because it means that we can analyze compost right on the spot!

Starting from scratch on a new building for the lab has also given SOIL an opportunity to build the best lab possible. SOIL’s Composting Director in Cap-Haïtien, Job Etienne, shared that the new lab’s improved equipment and more hygienic conditions will allow SOIL’s lab team to work better than before.

What’s new? First, we now have smoother work surfaces using better materials than our old lab. Pathogens love to hide in rough materials like wood or in joints, which can be hard to clean, so our new counters will help SOIL ensure a more hygienic work space. We installed air-conditioning to maintain regular temperatures, which is important when conducting microbiological tests in a country as humid and hot as Haiti can be. We’ll have a separate office and storage space for the lab tech, too, so that people are only in the actual lab when it’s needed.

Our lab was designed in a partnership between SOIL’s team and our friends at Eurofins who provided helpful advice on the lab design, like the inclusion of a transition room between the office and the lab itself to help reduce dust from entering the lab. Another neat design feature is that, like our new office in Ti Lary, we decided to use pre-fab containers instead of heavy concrete. These are a lighter, portable, and more cost-effective way for SOIL to build.

Lénot, SOIL’s lab tech extraordinaire, is excited about the new facility because he says ” it reinforces SOIL’s goal of protecting the environment and public health”. Not only will this new lab allow us to more safely conduct the regular testing that’s a central part of SOIL’s safety and treatment protocols, but it also gives us the capacity to invest in new types of testing in the near future, like helminth tests, which no lab in Haiti currently offers.

We’re thrilled that the doors to our new facility have opened on the treatment site, and we extend a huge thank you to Pennywise Foundation and EuroFins for supporting this important work.

We are well on our way to cultivating the systems, infrastructure, and procedures needed to help prepare us to expand our lifesaving sanitation service in the years to come. Join us as we do:

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Photo credit: Vic Hinterlang

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