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A toilet is a sanitation fixture used for the storing or disposal of human urine and feces. In developed countries, different forms of porcelain flush toilets are common: seats are usually used in the West while squat toilets are common in East Asia. These are connected to a sewer system in most urban areas and to septic tanks in less built-up areas. In many developing countries, especially in rural areas, dry toilets such as pit latrines and composting toilets remain common. Dry toilets are usually placed in outhouses, i.e. not inside the dwelling, and are ideally located away from sources of drinking and bathing water.
In many countries, private homes are designed with the flush toilet and the bath or shower in the same room, the bathroom, to simplify plumbing and reduce cost. Other cultures find this insanitary, and have one room for body-washing and a separate room for excretion. Public toilets are installed where their use is expected on a permanent basis, while portable toilets may be brought in for large but temporary gatherings. Chemical toilets are also used in various contexts, such as passenger trains and airplanes.
Serious waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea occur when open defecation or poor sanitation permits human waste to pollute water supplies. Historically, sanitation has been a concern from the earliest stages of human settlements. The Indus Valley Civilization is particularly notable for its extensive sanitation works, including private flush toilets. For the most part, early cities emptied their waste into rivers or seas manually or via open ditches. Sanitation in ancient Rome was notably advanced, as were some of the reredorters of medieval monasteries, but emptying of chamber pots into city streets continued into the modern era. A precursor to the modern flush toilet system was designed by John Harington in 1596 but did not become common until the late 19th century. Even London, at that time the world's largest city, did not require indoor toilets in its building codes until after the First World War.

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