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A possible solution to toilet stink in China


Using public toilets in China can often be a challenging undertaking, particularly for those not practiced in the art of squatting. But researchers in China have come up with a new technology that they say can help eliminate one of the most noxious of problems to plague China’s public lavatories: the overpowering stench.


Unlike chemical solutions, which are expensive and can be harmful to the environment, the new biotreatment is being touted as an environmentally friendly, cost-effective way to resolve up to 75 percent of the odors in bathrooms, according to researchers with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


The science behind the treatment lies in a special mixture of two types of bacteria-lactobacillius sp and streptococcus thermopiles-as well as the essence of tangerines. The prepared mixture, which comes in liquid or powder form, feeds on human waste when applied, thereby precluding the growth of aroma-making bacteria.


Not yet available in supermarkets, the odor-killing technology is still undergoing testing, said Yan Zhiying, a bacteriologist at the Chengdu Institute of Biology and the lead researcher on the project.


Large-scale experiments with the solution are being planned in the Huanglong Nature Preserve and Jiuzhaigou National Park, both popular tourist destinations in Sichuan Province.


The technology is especially suited for use in the nonflushing toilets often found in these types of nature preserves, Mr. Yan said, since water regulations in these areas are often very strict and plumbing is difficult to install.


Mr. Yan added that portable bathrooms, while convenient, are relatively expensive to maintain compared with the biosolution.


“This way tourists can see that not only are your mountains nice, but the toilets and the other facilities at the site are pleasant as well,” said Mr. Yan, who said that the technology has other applications as well, such as the treatment of landfills.


If claims to its effectiveness prove true, the technology is likely to be embraced by the Chinese health authorities. In February 2013, the Ministry of Health issued a draft regulation setting standards for public toilets. The regulations, which prompted much snickering from the public, included guidelines on the number of flies allowed per square meter and the level of odor permissible in certain types of bathrooms.


On a scale of one to four for strength of odor, four being the strongest, free-standing bathrooms must be less than two-or only “slightly smelly”-while public bathrooms must be less than one and have “no odor,” the regulations said.


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