How Much Poop Does America Flush?

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In my book, I claim America gives a porcelain burial to 108 million pounds of poop every single day. 4.5 million pounds an hour. 39.4 billion pounds a year.

Now I'll prove it.

Or, rather, I won't. Because my research uncovered a shocking gap in scientific knowledge: we don't actually know how much we poop.

Here's what we do know: there are 300 million Americans. In 1996, the EPA estimated that 72% of us are served by America's 16,000+ publicly-owned sewage treatment plants. Assuming that number is still accurate, that's 216 million people today. Those of you who are good at math have already figured out where this is headed: 216 million people, 108 million pounds -- a daily per-capita of a half-pound of cable laid.

But that's an educated guess. Because, as it turns out, there are no definitive figures. In his book Nanomedicine, Dr. Robert A. Freitas Jr. cites three studies in putting his daily figure at 100-200 grams -- that is, .22 to .44 pounds a day. A 1992 study in Gastroenterology found an average of 106 grams a day among 220 UK residents, but with the caveat that "data from other populations of the world show average stool weight to vary from 72 to 470 g/day." The Merck Manual says that Westerners grunt out 100-300 grams a day. But in the very next breath, Merck says that "generally, stool amount > 300 g/day is considered diarrhea" -- which is ridiculous, because who defines diarrhea by weight? A two-pound bowl-curler isn't diarrhea because it tips some arbitrary scale; nor is a sputtering blurt of rancid curry ambiguous until some formal weigh-in.

With no logical recognition of the nature of diarrhea, it's no wonder science lacks consensus on our species' blatting average. But Merck seemed pretty confident in its declaration, so for my book I split its figures -- 200 grams, .44 pounds -- and rounded up to make the math easier. Multiply by 216 million people and I got my answer. And it's a staggering figure -- the equivalent of 123 fully-loaded 747s! Of 18.3 million 14-inch iBook G4s! Of 108 million one-pound weights!

But dive down into your toilet, swim through the sewers, and emerge at the treatment plant, and you'll discover a lot more than 108 million pounds floating through the network. Wikipedia estimates that 17% of Americans are served by on-site sanitation systems like septic tanks. Septic tanks are emptied by pump trucks, and pump trucks are emptied into the sewage infrastructure -- so even those living off the sewage grid are still adding their poop to it.

(It's just too bad we can't use that poop for good.)

I'm sure some will question my half-pound-per-day estimate. That's fine -- I question it myself. For instance, is it even relevant to calculate a daily average? After all, while some people go three times a day, others go three times a week, and because diet and metabolism are unique to all of us, such variation in schedule is not at all abnormal. Furthermore, a high-fiber diet bumps up stool weight; those who aren't eating their veggies aren't bulking their poop. And poop itself is around 75% water -- on hot days, when we sweat a lot, does our poop weigh less?

In other words: it took me three hours to write this article. In that time, I believe America passed 13.5 million pounds of poop.

But no one really knows for sure.

39 Comments on "How Much Poop Does America Flush?"

Anonymous Coward's picture
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astounding !

kat's picture
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great site. this is so interesting to me and i love reading poop stories

Deja Poo's picture
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300 mill * 72% = 206 mill. But what's 10 million people more or less? That's only approximately equal to the "best estimate" of the number of illegal aliens in the country.

Call me Didactic Poo.
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Deja Poo - Because this shit's so strange, it couldn't ever have happened before.

Yo quiero Taco Bell.

Deja Poo's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points
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Can I die now? It is 216 mill. I should have used my calculator instead of my head (which is currently stuffed full of snot from a head cold), but I left it on the top of toilet tank this morning.
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Deja Poo - Because this shit's so strange, it couldn't ever have happened before.

Yo quiero Taco Bell.

Dave's picture
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300*.72 = 216. Unless my calculator is broken...

Shit monster's picture
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Interesting stuff, Dave

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(insert ziggy boogy doog here)

(insert ziggy boogy doog here)

CC's picture
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Does that mean INS can deport the illegal shit?Will there be an amnesty program for all the poop in Quantico? Will Bono launch SOS(Save Our Shit)International? If the illegal turds are allowed to stay will there be enough shitty jobs for them?

The Thunderous Crapper 63's picture
k 500+ points
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BTW peeps 200 mill is not 200 million I forget what it is but it isnt millions.
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The Thunderous Crapper 63 Enjoying home toilet advantage since 2004!

AHHHHHEMMMMMMMMMM JUST CLEARING MY THROAT!! ;)

Mary Queen of Scats's picture
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I've often wondered about things like this myself. Except it's usually something along the lines of "I wonder how much of the weight of the ocean is poop."

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It's YOUR cat, YOU get his poop out of my sink!

Bad kitty! Bathtubs are NOT litterboxes!

Anomalous Coward's picture
k 500+ points
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"How much poop does America flush?"
All of it I hope.

Deja Poo's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points
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There's been something bothering me about the numbers. The 100-300 grams number seems far too small. The whole Conservation of Mass issue comes into play here. Remember that, assuming your weight is more-or-less stable, every gram you ingest (whether it's fluid or solid) is going to come out of you. There are only six really relevant ways to lose body mass: pooping, peeing, vomiting, sweating, breathing and sloughing (skin and hair). Of course, you could lose an arm, have an organ removed or donate blood but these are uncommon events for our purposes.

Looking at that list of five, vomiting is also an unusual situation and, unless you're pretty ill, not a daily event. I don't know how much you slough everyday but, unless your molting or some such thing, I don't suppose that's such a large amount everyday either. Sweating could be an issue and I'm not sure what that figure would be, but I don't think it's particularly relevant for our purposes since sweat is mostly water. That would seem to leave peeing and pooping as your primary means of eliminating your daily intake.

This leads us to the next question about our digestive tracts. In short, it transforms food and drink into pee and poop while extracting the body's needs and depositing the body's wastes. On the other hand, soup is food as is cereal, but these are mostly fluids. Maybe we should change our reference point on our intake from food and drink to solids and fluids. The question is, to what extent can your body transform solids to liquids and vice versa.

I'm going to make a large leap here. I'm going to wager that, by weight, your daily urine, sweat and your breath moisture output are approximately equal to your daily liquid intake and that your daily sloughing and fecal output is, accordingly, approximately equal to your solid intake. If this is the case, in order to figure out your average poop mass by looking at your average food intake.

If you eat like I do, your poop has got to be more than 1 lb per day, because I know that I consume more than 1 lb of solids per day. While I don't know the exact mass, I can say that lunch tends to average a little more than a 1 lb because I usually eat at one of these buffet bars in our office building where they charge by the pound. My daily bill is usually the equivalent of 1.25 lbs, assuming that the weight of the styrofoam container is negligible. Add on to that, breakfast, dinner and snacks and I'm betting that I'm consuming a good 2.5 - 3.0 lbs per day.

(And don't assume that I'm some fat bastard either. I'm a very svelte 200 lbs at 5'10" -- and managed to lose a significant amount of weight over the last two years.)

Omigawd. I just realized that, if my assumptions are true. That foot of cable I'm laying everyday has got to be 2.5 to 3.0 lbs everyday. I'm squeezing out the equivalent of ten (countem!) Quarter Pounders (weight before cooking) from my ass everyday. Jeez, my poop doesn't look that large. Sure, it's impressive and, sometimes when it's inside of me, it feels much larger. But coiled up at the bottom of the bowl, it just doesn't seem that large.

Which leads to a couple of other conclusions about our droppings. While Conservation of Mass is, Conservation of Volume and Conservation of Time is/are not. That is, by weight input equals out, but by displacement, the number of cubic meters of solids consumed is probably not and certainly crapping as often as you're eating. That may be why it seems so hard to believe that you're shitting out the equivalent of your breakfast, lunch and dinner. You may eat 2 or more times per day (excluding snacks), but you probably only pinch a loaf once per day. Unless you're an avid reader or very constipated, I doubt that you spend as much time on the toilet as you do at the dinner table.

So, to make a long story short, it seems to me that if you want a really want to know just how full of shit Americans really are, just figure out how many thousands or millions of tons of food we consume everyday. In any case, I'm betting that it's a shitload.


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Deja Poo - Because this shit's so strange, it couldn't ever have happened before.

Yo quiero Taco Bell.

Dave's picture
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DP -- first off, I must commend you on your elaborate and well-rationalized essay. Unfortunately I have to summarily dismiss it as based on a faulty premise.

"Remember that, assuming your weight is more-or-less stable, every gram you ingest (whether it's fluid or solid) is going to come out of you."

You forget the main purpose of digestion: turning food into energy for your body. Protein, fat, and carbohydrate are converted into energy. That which it can't convert to energy is secreted as waste (along with water, bacteria, dead cells, fiber, and so on). That which it can use is expended by your body in the form of muscle movement and so on.

I think. Now that we're getting into physics, I guess there is the law of conservation of mass. Can mass be converted into energy? Aside from E=MC2, which probably doesn't apply.

Deja Poo's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points
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Mass does have an energy equivalence. That's what the E=MC2 function expresses. However, the formula relates energy at the atomic level, not the molecular. Your body, however, doesn't so much change atoms as it changes molecules, which are composed of atoms. While molecules contain a whole lot of energy, they pale in comparison to the amount of energy contained within an atom.

Even if the body were converting atoms into energy, the whole mass-energy equivalence formula seems to indicated that we don't convert a significant amount of mass. One gram of mass contains the energy equivalent of most small nuclear weapons. Another way of thinking of this is that the E=MC2 equation reflects the amount of energy stored within the atom. However most chemical processes don't change atoms; they change molecules. Burning gasoline (or using sugar) only decomposes the Hydrocarbon configurations into water, carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide and a couple of other nasty molecules (like sulfuric acid or ferric oxide) depending on the type of impurities in the fuel.

Consider some of the best known atomic reactions: fission and fusion. These reactions convert a very small amount of explosive into a very large amount of energy, primarily because of the specific amounts of energy stored within the atomic configuration. Even still, most of the explosive material remains. Only a very small portion of matter is actually converted into energy. Also, the primary explosive material in these weapons are atoms, not molecules: Hydrogen (and its isotopes Deuterium and Tritium) and Uranium (primarily, Plutonium). In fact, these reactions are measured in terms of kiltons of a molecule Trinitrotulene, or TNT.

I think, then, that the body is not doing atomic conversion on a large scale with food. It's doing mostly molecular conversions. Because if the body were doing atomic conversions, I could probably eat a couple of grams of food and that would last me a lifetime.

And, if that were the case, then I could eat a block of lead and maybe crap a brick of gold.
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Deja Poo - Because this shit's so strange, it couldn't ever have happened before.

Yo quiero Taco Bell.

Dave's picture
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Having thought more about this: we don't eat to poop. We eat to create energy, and poop is the byproduct. If you were to go for a couple weeks without eating, you'd obviously lose a lot of weight. That implies that the energy our bodies use comes from the mass of our bodies. So food adds mass that your body burns off as energy. If you have a steady input of food and a steady output of energy, your body maintains weight at an equilibrium, even though it poops out less than it takes in.

This is further underscored by the fact that fat is stored energy. Your body will burn it off when there is no food input.

DungDaddy's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points
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Science. I like Science. Excellent post and thread.

douchepump's picture
m 1+ points - Newb
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Hey, lets do world poopulation,at post time its
6707881852

douchepump's picture
m 1+ points - Newb
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I think I need to meet deja poo and dave.Their posts are incredible.(smart dudes, i need to stalk them)

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points
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I wonder how many ears of corn are in that 13.5 million pounds.
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.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

DankMonkey's picture
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We need some consenus here on the average density of poop. Given an average of 250 grams/day, what is the equivalent volume? I am going to make an observational guesstimation of about 1000 mL per shit( about 4 cups). this equates to an average density of 250kg/meter cubed.
Anyone else out there composting their "humanure"?

"Smoke that shit"

Turdmaster's picture
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A large part of your food intake consists of water...imagine drying your food out completely. There will not be a whole lot left.


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One Turd to rule them all
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One Turd to rule them all
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Dry-Wipe's picture
m 1+ points - Newb
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i commend u folks on the thought yall put into this. i can truely say that its one huge load of shit, per day i mean.


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oh man, i feel soo much better. i think i lost a few pounds... dont even think about going in there for at least 20-30 minutes. dont worry, i left the fan on.

oh man, i feel soo much better. i think i lost a few pounds... dont even think about going in there for at least 20-30 minutes. dont worry, i left the fan on.

healthy 1's picture
j 1000+ points
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Another thing to consider, some people's poop is denser than others.

Consider the weight of a floater vs. the weight of a sinker. At best, the scientists can likely only produce an educated guess.

Though our diets mostly consist of water, some people can absorb more, while others absorb less. Weather is probably a factor as well, as well as occupation (the sweat factor).

In summary, there are so many variables to poop weight, that it would take intense study, as well as lots of time, money, and people to get an accurate figure.

"Two percent of the population think; three percent of the population think they think, and 95 percent of the population would rather die than think."

Anonymous Idiot's picture
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I think if it makes a big splash an almost flushes itself down its gotta be close to a pound at least.

Anonymous Coward's picture
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Dude, it's very easy. When you feel the urge, run into the bathroom, step on a high end digital scale, weigh your self three times. Average the shit while you're making matzo balls, and then weigh yourself at the end. Eureka! 0.8 lbs, pretty stable the last fifteen years.

ChiliKahKah's picture
j 1000+ points
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Do not worry under the newly proposed federal regulations, we will be taxed according to consumption. So, we will have to weigh each turd to calculate the tax.

MSG's picture
Comment Quality Moderatori 2000+ points
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I've made calculations like this in the past; I find it interesting. I did it for the world, in terms of how many people were pooping at a given time. Since the range of frequency is about from 3 times a week to 3 times a day, that averages about once a day. So, on average, 7,000,000,000 people poop per day; 292,000,000 per hour; 4,860,000 per minute. Thus, during the time I'm on the pot, which averages 4 to 5 minutes start to finish, say 20 million people are pushing out poop right along with me. Such solidarity with the mass of humanity is reassuring. In the US, with our population pushing (!) 330,000,000 by now, the numbers are about 13,750,000 per hour, or 230,000 a minute, so during my poop session I am joined by about a million Americans. Of course, some of the time I poop at peak times, so I'm sure that, in secret, more than a million US citizens are grunting in unison with me.

But back to weight. I am deeply suspicious of the numbers shown above. I think I poop more than .44 pound per day, and I poop less than I used to. I think the only scientific method of determining the answer is actually to weigh the stuff. Some scientific souls must weigh their poop by catching it in something of known weight, then weighing the filled something on a postal scale or the like. I hope some public-spirited Poopreporters will do that and give us some averaged results. I think it should be poop straight from the source, not dried, because that's what goes into the sewage systems, whatever they are. I think I recounted watching the honey-wagon (septic truck) flush out our septic system; an informative and sobering experience involving a whole lot of brown.

El Scumbag's picture
k 500+ points
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Well according to the sources I have read, approximately one third of our food intake comes out as shit. Whether that helps the calculations, I don't know.

Deja Poo mentioned that he wasn't sure about how much weight of sloughed skin was dropped each day. The answer is - very little. Over the course of a year, we each shed an average 1 lb of dead skin matter, and about 1.2 lbs to 1.5lbs if you suffer from dandruff or eczema. Most of it goes into our bedding.

Anonymous Coward's picture
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OK, according to my calculations, I have come up with the following statistics:

My age is about 63 and the calculations are based on a 1/2 pound poop/day which is 6" long. At this rate, consider that if all this poop were to be in one log, it would be 11,500 feet long! That is a 2.178 mile long log!

And it would weigh in at 11,500 pounds! That is a 5.75 ton log!

MSG's picture
Comment Quality Moderatori 2000+ points
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I ask again--has anyone actually weighed his or her output? I haven't, but one day I will, and then I'll let you know. I'd bet on more than a pound a day.

sittingpretty's picture
Comment Quality Moderatori 2000+ points
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Yes, Msg. I have weighed my poo and pee. The most my pee has wieghed is 0.5 kg. The most my poo weighed was 1.5 kg.
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...And their flesh like dung. Zeph. 1:17

...And their flesh like dung. Zeph. 1:17

MSG's picture
Comment Quality Moderatori 2000+ points
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Thanks, SP, for the statistic; since 1 kg = about 2.2 lb, that means that the most your poo weighed was 3.3 pounds--a lot more than .4 pound (about 6 oz.). I assume that's for a day. One of these days I'll weigh mine . . .

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points
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I have an ice cream scale, originally from Baskin Robbins, that I use for portion control. What excuse can I give my wife if she sees me laying a turd on it? Perhaps try to tell her that it is really a slightly "off" chocolate with corn sprinkles?


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Eat chilies and feel the burn!!

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on!

sittingpretty's picture
Comment Quality Moderatori 2000+ points
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No, MSG, that was after one poop or one pee. Back when I was a pediatric nurse, we kept the scale in the treatment room where the restroom we nurses used was. Before an evacuation, I would weigh myself immediately before then immediately after. The most one poop output weighed was 1.5 kg. The most one pee weighed was 0.5 kg. Most of my poops were diarrhea in those days(15 yrs ago).
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...And their flesh like dung. Zeph. 1:17

...And their flesh like dung. Zeph. 1:17

michael kegley's picture
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My comment is how many gallons of poop dose america pooop/flush.please write back

Bilgepump's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorh 3000+ points
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Mike, read the very beginning of the article.
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The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

Steve The Great's picture
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I just gave birth to a 2 pounder! I weighed myself right after. I feel like I could run a marathon.

Son of Ares's picture
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You really should put a facebook "like" button on here.


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My grandaddy handled snakes in church, my granny drank strychnine.

My grandaddy handled snakes in church, my granny drank strychnine.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points
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Son of Ares, We at Poop Report have a much better system. We select only the most elite PoopReporters who meet in private and pool their talents to decide the worthiness, or unworthiness of posts made by the "Hoi Pilloi". Show yourself to be of great intellect and in possession of the wisdom of Solomon and, one day, my child, you too may be upgraded to the esteemed rank of moderator.

PS: Please don't take offense but I don't want to eat any of your granny's cooking.


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Dirty old men need love too!!

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on!

Anonymous's picture
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the problem is that with the increasing population the poop will increase .. until all the world gets converted into a poop ball.