Monday, May 7, 2012
PUBLIC TOILETS CAN BE INFECTIOUS
(© 7 May, 2012: Dr. V.M. Palaniappan)
Do you feel comfortable to sit over the toilet pram, if it happens to be a public facility?
I don’t think anybody would prefer to do so, unless it happens to be exceptionally clean - such as in Star Hotels and in some of the Government offices in the developed countries.
(Whenever I read "STERILIZED" sticker stuck to the toilet in star hotels, I couldn't help thinking that the toilet cleaners / housekeepers are not scientists to know what exactly the word 'sterilization' means.)
Upon entering into a toilet, you will be closing the door.
After this, whatever you do is not going to be noticed by others.
You have full freedom to do anything you please.
When I have to use a public toilet, I look for the tissue roll. I tear off a few bits (feeling guilty all the time), spread them over the pram, and sit over it to ‘relax’.
If tissue papers are not available, I normally push back the pram, cautiously ‘climb’ up over the white China clay material, and squat to relax.
However, you cannot do this while on an airplane, for several obvious reasons!
When you climb over the toilet, you have to be extra careful, lest your feet may slip off from its hold… and you may end up in a mess!
Yet, since no one is going to watch you, you are still free to do whatever you wish…
I am slim. So, it is OK in my case to climb up and squat over the toilet.
How about those who are overweight or obese, or those who are not used to squatting even on a level ground?.
Those with knee pain tend to suffer even more!
The reason for avoiding to sit over a public toilet is based on the fear that we may get infected by any of the disease causing microorganisms.
The awful smell arising out of such toilets (especially in many under-developed or in some of the developing countries) and urine ‘spilled’ all over, etc. form much repulsive.
This is mostly true for places in the tropics.
(Most of the public toilets, such as in Supermarkets in Malaysia are normally very clean.
The toilets in most of the government offices in Malaysia appear to be very clean! In fact, some of them are exceptionally clean!
The toilets in the Malaysian highway rest places are very, very clean, indeed!
Since I have not explored all the toilets in the country, I must admit that there could be a few exceptions, which I may not be aware of!
However, I have to also admit that some of the road-side restaurants tend to have not-so-clean kind of toilets.
For this reason, even if the toilet happens to be somewhat 'dirty', if it is a squatting Asian type of toilet, it will be a lot safer! We often have BOTH the types in many of the office buildings in Malaysia.
Nearly ALL household toilets in Malaysia are kept very clean, almost without exception - this can be judged after visiting a few homes at random.)
In countries experiencing cold climate, the foul odour may not be there.
The chillness does not encourage most of the microbes to thrive in the toilets of temperate countries.
In my previous article, I highlighted the various ecological factors that are very conducive for the existence of microbes.
Do you know what they are?
4. Nitrogen / Ammonia / Protein
5. Stagnated air that is devoid of oxygen.
We now know that moisture comes from the urine or the water we use for cleansing.
Warmth comes from our defecated / voided matter, our body and the like, and it gets conserved when we close the door.
When we go away from the toilet, we tend to switch off the lights.
The closed door too keeps the toilet dark.
Urine provided the needed nitrogen / ammonia.
Inadequate ventilation + the closed doors conserve the oxygen-depleted air, filled with all sorts of gases.
All the above factors promote bacterial growth manifold, and that makes things worse.
In the tropics, most of the people, thinking it is fashionable, or that they are well-informed, close down the COVER that is attached to the toilet bowl itself.
This worsens the situation.
You can keep the bowl closed in Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and such countries.
However, you CANNOT do so in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, india, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Myanmar, Vietnam, and such countries that experience nice warmth. Langka
If you did cover the bowl, your toilet will certainly smell bad, besides being bad for health.
When it comes to the main door at the entrance of the toilet in my house, I never close it. It is left open all the time. My toilets never emit bad odour.
If the main door of the toilet is kept open all the time, fresh oxygen-carrying air that enters into it will remove the bad odour in the first place, and dry up the entire area.
Since we have ‘broken’ this way several of the ecological factors that favour the existence of bacteria, our bathrooms will be very save, neat, and odour-free at all times.
If you happen to visit me, you can ‘borrow’ my toilet.
You will be very impressed, indeed!
Of course, in addition to the above ‘protection measures’, you can also hang there a deodorant bag.
(Sorry, I don't mean YOU, but the word hanging refers to the deodorant).
I would not recommend the use of aerosol sprays for the purpose, especially because it is bad for health.
Yet, it should be considered OK for occasional use - especially when you are going to hold a party or any such gathering in your residence.
I wish you a very happy and pleasant toileting, without any concern or worry about infections!
Bye for now,