What is Sanitary Engineering Emergence development importance

Sanitary Engineering

Sanitary Engineering is the branch of engineering dedicated basically to the sanitation of the areas in which human activity takes place. For this, it uses the knowledge that is taught in disciplines such as Hydraulics , Chemical Engineering , Biology (particularly Microbiology ), Physics , Mathematics , Mechanics , Electromagnetism , Electromechanics, Thermodynamics , among others. Its field is complemented and shared in recent years with the tasks faced by Environmental Engineering, which extends its activity to aerial and soil environments.

The definition ofEngineer , adopted in 1970 by the International Labor Organization and whose essential part defines it as follows: “Projects the construction of engineering works and facilities intended to ensure public hygiene and health, such as water supply systems and waste disposal and plans , organizes and supervises its construction , operation, conservation and repair; performs tasks similar to those performed by the Civil Engineer, in general, but is specialized in the project, construction, operation, conservation and repair of drinking water filtration and distribution installations , wastewater evacuation systems.”

Emergence and development of Sanitary Engineering

Sanitary Engineering arose from the apparent problem that the health and well-being of a population are closely related to the quality of its environment, people have applied certain principles to try to improve the latter. The Romans built aqueducts to prevent drought and provide the city of Rome with a clean and healthy source of water. Today’s sanitary engineering made its first slight appearances in London in the mid- 19th century , when it was established that a proper sewerage network could reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases such as cholera ..

The introduction since then of water purification and wastewater treatment has transformed waterborne diseases from major causes of death to rarities in industrialized countries. The name Sanitary Engineering comes from the Anglo-Saxon practice and its origin dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when some of the universities in the United States developed and put into practice a new concept of Public Health, where great attention was paid to the role that basic sanitation plays in promoting the health of populations. These ideas, collected and expanded by the World Health Organization, remain in force and have made it possible to establish as a basic element in estimating the quality of life of citizens, the availability of an adequate supply of drinking water and wastewater disposal.

In the past

The first indications of Sanitary Engineering were born with the formation of the first cities. Indeed, previously human populations tended to move from one place to another, so the environmental impact tended to be limited. However, once agriculture was discovered towards the end of the Stone Age, large human settlements began to appear and with them the problems derived from a much more complex community life. It is in this way that solutions begin to be developed regarding the environmental impact that the generation of human waste could have.

A clear example of the above can be offered by the Roman civilization, a civilization that implemented a complex drainage systemof black water In this way, drainage through sewers continues to be a fundamental aspect of any health policy.


Today, Sanitary Engineering also focuses on water treatment, solid waste treatment, and environmental impact assessments that human activities may have. In this sense, it should be remembered that a small slip in this area can have extraordinarily negative consequences for the environment.


Sanitary Engineering is oriented towards the management, planning, analysis, design , development and implementation of appropriate technologies that seek to offer alternative solutions to the various problems of the community and its environment, making use of state-of-the-art technologies in the various fields of science and human endeavor.

It constitutes, then, a fundamental part in the solution to health and environmental problems, an activity that through the elaboration of models applied to the environmental condition, seeks to preserve, improve and guarantee public health and the well-being of the community. Its central idea is the analysis and planning of techniques that lead to adequate control of the population’s health.

Activities in which Sanitary Engineering participates

The activities of Sanitary Engineering tending to clean up the environment are intended to cut the link in the chain of transmission of many diseases and preserve the environment for the pleasure and well-being of society. This sanitation action is closely linked to other health disciplines such as:

  • Epidemiology
  • Parasitology
  • Statistical microbiology
  • Sanitary administration
  • Industrial hygiene

These are several of the activities in which Sanitary Engineering participates: o Supply, treatment and distribution of water

  • Sewage systems, treatment and control of black water (or sewage) and industrial waste
  • Control of water pollution
  • Municipal and rural garbage disposal services
  • Rodent and insect control
  • Food hygiene
  • Sanitation of schools, public places, summer resorts, swimming pools, etc.
  • Construction of hygienic houses
  • Control of fumes, dust, gases
  • Hygiene and industrial sanitation
  • Planning and urbanization of cities

Examples of Multidisciplinary Interventions in Sanitary Engineering

  • Civil engineering works, including the areas of Hydraulics, Structures, Topography , Geotechnics, foundries.
  • Chemical Engineering Works, including the areas of processes and operations.
  • Mechanical engineering works, including the areas of design and operation of pumping equipment and equipment for different types of water treatment.
  • Electrical engineering jobs.
  • Laboratory analysis work to determine physical and chemical parameters and the presence of organic matter .
  • Investigation studies of processes and operations.
  • Studies and laboratory work to analyze bacteriological aspects.
  • Epidemiological studies and awareness activities carried out by medical specialists in public health.
  • Environmental studies by specialists in environmental impact assessment.
  • Analysis and legal studies
  • Economic and financial studies.
  • Marketing studies.
  • Social studies


Possibly the greatest achievement of Sanitary Engineering has been the drastic decrease in water-borne diseases, such as dysentery , typhoid, infantile diarrhea and others. Such achievement was achieved through the treatment of water for human consumption, clarifying it, filtering it and disinfecting it. These practices began to be done in the contemporary age from the mid-nineteenth century, and the name of the English doctor John Snow especially arises there , who combined Epidemiology and Engineering methods in his study.

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