China debuts biotreatment for bathroom stink
SUMMARY: Chinese scientists developed a new treatment to stave off putrid smells in public restrooms.
Posted: July 10, 2014
In general, the public restrooms in China have a less than perfect reputation.
Coupled with squatting toilets, many lavatories use a paper discard, with the basket rife with things you'd rather not lay eyes on.
While residents may be accustomed to these conditions, the putrid smells, as you could imagine, are a big tourist turn-off. In the 1990s, one-third of all complaints to tourism officials in Beijing concerned the design and odor of public lavatories.
However, Chinese scientists recently revealed a bacterial spray that can, they say, nearly eliminate even the worst smells of biological decompositions.
Five scientists from the Chinese Academy of Science developed the formula, spending nearly $239,000 on the project, which started in 2011. Luckily, defeating bad breath doesn't cost even close to as much.
The science behind the biotreatment is in a special mixture of two types of bacteria: Lactobacillus sp and streptococcus thermopiles - as well as the fragrance of tangerines. The mixture comes in liquid or powder form and feeds on human waste when applied. Unlike chemical solutions, which are more expensive and can be more threatening to the environment, the new technology is being touted as an cost-effective, environmentally friendly way to cure 75 percent of the stenches in bathrooms.
Yan Zhiying, a bacteriologist at the Chengdu Institute of Biology and the lead researcher on the project, said that the odor-killing treatment is still undergoing testing and not yet available in supermarkets. Large-scale experiments with the technology are being designed in the Huanglong Nature Preserve and Jiuzhaigou National Park, both tourist hotspots in Sichuan Province.
"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 added that there are other applications as well, including the treatment of landfills.
This problem of the bathroom stench has been around for a long time - 2,000 years at least. In the kingdom of Wei (220 to 265 A.D.), people who visited the palace lavatories would use dates to stuff up their noses and stave off unpleasant odors.
More recently, in 2013, the Ministry of Health issued a draft regulation that set standards for public toilets. The regulations said that the smell of odor in free-standing bathrooms, on a scale of one to four, four being the strongest, must be less than two - or "slightly smelly." Public restrooms must be less than one and have "no odor," the regulations said.
While TheraBreath bad breath solutions might not be able to fight off bathroom smells, it can certainly help with oral odors. Equipped with halitosis remedies, tourists traveling to China in the next few years - once the anti-smell treatment is deployed - can be the judges.