Erinold’s Trip to the USA Expands SOIL’s Pathogen Testing Capacity
The SOIL Cap-Haitien team is happy to have its Sanitation Coordinator back after a 2-week trip in June to the United States. Erinold Frederic is a busy man in the office, not only managing SOIL’s busiest sanitation program EkoLakay, but also the laboratory where each batch of compost is tested for pathogens before sale. When the opportunity arose to expand SOIL’s pathogen testing capacity, Erinold stepped up to the plate….the microscope plate that is.
Although SOIL currently tests for E. coli as a broad-spectrum pathogen indicator for human waste treatment, Erinold learned about how to test for Ascaris eggs and larvae. Ascaris is another important pathogen indicator in the EcoSan and waste treatment world, and there are currently no labs in Haiti that offer these testing services. Ascaris eggs are extremely tough and can withstand challenging conditions that would kill off some of their less hardy pathogenic friends, making them an important pathogen to test for. But they are killed within one hour at 60 C and as such are no match for SOIL’s composting process (as demonstrated by a recent research project carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Emory University)!
Erinold traveled to Rochester, NY and was hosted by the co-founder of SOIL, Sarah Brownell, who currently teaches at Rochester Institute of Technology. In the lab, Erinold learned the 4-hour process of how to take a compost sample and turn it into a final microscope slide (after much vortexing and centrifuging) to identify whether Ascaris eggs and larvae are present.
Erinold is happy to have the opportunity to expand his pathogen testing knowledge so that SOIL can keep working safely with human waste. His dream is to be able to grow the lab so that SOIL can be a service for other individuals or organizations to be able to have access to testing services. Eventually, Erinold hopes to be able to gain more knowledge into compost nutrient testing so that SOIL can better inform its compost clients, in order to not continually rely on nutrient testing services in the Dominican Republic or the United States.
In addition to lab work, Erinold also had the opportunity to visit a biodiesel operation, a wind power company (future power source for the compost site?), and Niagara Falls. Also importantly, he had the chance to share information on his hometown in Haiti with community members. Erinold thanks everyone for making the trip possible, but is happy to return home to his family, friends and delicious Haitian food.
Following the trip we are now looking for a microscope with a 40x power setting to use for Ascaris testing in the SOIL lab. Any microbiologists out there who might have a microsope to spare? Contact SOIL to help out!