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Nature's call calls clean toilets

Updated: 2013-11-18 20:38
( Xinhua)

GUANGZHOU - Although it might be bad for your health, many in China would rather hold on to nature's call than use a public toilet, as so many are, frankly, disgusting.

Muddy floors, dirty squat potties and litters of waste paper are common scenes in China's urban public toilets, in drastic contrast to the glitzy streets outside.

In the megacity of Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, Huang, a toilet attendant at the Chen Clan Shrine, has to use sulfuric acid every night to clean the 14 squat potties of his overloaded lavatory.

"Sometimes a whole coachload of tourists lines up here," he said, estimating that around 10,000 people use the toilet every month.

To raise global awareness of proper sanitation, the United Nations General Assembly in July designated World Toilet Day, which falls on Tuesday this year.

According to the UN estimates, every US dollar spent on toilets means a $9 saving on public health. As a nation of 1.3 billion people, China falls severely short of public toilets, leaving many of them extremely dirty.

In Guangzhou, where 5 million people are transported by subway every day, only 16 of the 100-plus subway stations are equipped with toilets. In an extreme case, a teenage boy was spotted pooping in a carriage on Subway Line 3 last November. Similar cases have also happened in subways of Beijing and Shanghai.

Chinese health authorities are trying to improve the situation. In February, the Ministry of Health issued a draft regulation on standards for public toilets, including limits for odor and the number of flies and maggots. The standards were widely mocked as it is hard to count flies and to determine how stinky any given stench is.

In September, Shenzhen, also in Guangdong, enacted a regulation imposing a fine of 100 yuan (16.41 U.S. dollars) on people who urinated outside the bowl. When public raised questions about enforcement, urban management workers responded that the regulation was only a warning, and no surveillance cameras or personnel would be stationed in public toilets.

To solve toilet problem, cities such as Guangzhou, Jinan and Wuhan have told government departments to open their toilets to the public.

Yang Zhongyi, chief of the environment and ecology school of Sun Yat-Sen University, said authorities had tried to improve hygiene, but the toilets in China were still lagging well behind average levels in developed countries.

World Toilet Day will help public toilet construction and renovation of private toilets in rural area from latrine pits to flush toilets, Yang said.

He also urged individuals to discipline themselves to keep toilets clean.

"Every person on the globe is a source pollution. In the world's most populated country, with less pollution and better hygiene, the overall environment of the country will be much better," he said.

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