Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ATMs & public toilets

Study: ATMs as Dirty as Public Toilets

Samples taken from public restrooms and ATMs were found to contain pseudomonads and bacillus, bacteria that are known to cause sickness.

ATM keypads are as dirty as public toilet seats, according to a recent study by British researchers. Researchers first took swabs from keypads of ATMs around England then took similar swabs from the seats of public toilets and compared the bacteria.

The samples from both locations were found to contain pseudomonads and bacillus, bacteria that are known to cause sickness.

''We were interested in comparing the levels of bacterial contamination between heavily used ATM machines and public lavatories,” said Dr. Richard Hasting, microbiologist for BioCote. “We were surprised by our results because the ATM machines were shown to be heavily contaminated with bacteria; to the same level as nearby public lavatories.

''In addition, the bacteria we detected on ATMs were similar to those from the toilet, which are well known as causes of common human illnesses.''

BioCote carried out the swab tests after they conducted a survey which revealed people consider public lavatories to be the biggest health risk. ATM pin pads and cash machines ranked tenth place in the survey as health risks.

''It's ironic that while people perceive chip and pin pads to be the least dirtiest, our swabbing experiments have actually shown them to be dirtier than public lavatories,” Hasting said.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It takes all kinds.

Toilet-themed restaurant in China flushed with success
Times of India

Beijing Diners in China are overcoming their reservations by flocking to a new toilet-themed restaurant where business is booming.

Customers at the Modern Toilet restaurant, in Kunming, Yunnan province, eat on seats converted from toilets.

Urinals hang on the walls as decorations and signature dishes include 'excrement ice cream', 'toilet bowl hot pot' and 'fried poo sticks'.

Owner Xu Liang says the restaurant has proved more popular than expected with students, in particular, keen to try the experience.

"We had a survey before opening, and 20 per cent of people wanted to try it, 60 per cent weren't sure, while only 20 per cent found the idea unacceptable," he said.

"Sometimes unusual combinations can work. A toilet and a restaurant are complete opposites but combined together they make for a unique experience."

Regular customer Yang Siwen, a university student, has eaten at the restaurant three times since it opened two weeks ago.

"I originally went in because I thought it was a toilet but then discovered it was a restaurant and decided to give it a try," she said.

Friday, January 14, 2011

News post

Panic as water supply cut over a Sh70m debt
The water supply for the entire lower Coast Province was on Friday disconnected over a Sh70 million debt.

The Water Resources Management Authority disconnected supplies at the Baricho Water Works, sparking panic. Beach hotels, currently enjoying more than 95 per cent bed occupancy, were particularly hard hit.

Coast Water Services Board (CWSB) chief executive Andy Maro Tola told journalists that the authority was owed more than Sh40 million.

The authority, however, said it is owed Sh70 million.

“We are disputing this amount,” said Mr Tola. The authority descended on the water works in the morning and cut off supply.

The Baricho Works supply water to Malindi, Watamu, Kilifi, Mtwapa and parts of Kisauni District.

On Thursday, the authority disconnected supplies at the Marere, Msambweni and Tiwi water works, which serve the South Coast.

Mr Tola said the CWSB is owed millions of shillings by government institutions.

Paid outstanding bills

But the authority’s chairman, Mr Francis Nyenze, said: “The board collects lots of money from district water companies, why don’t they pay their debts?”

Malindi Water and Sewerage Company chief executive Johnson Randu said they had paid all their outstanding bills to the water board.

“We are caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association National chairman Titus Kangangi said the authority and the board should engage in talks since water consumers pay promptly on demand.


U.S. orders more testing of chromium-6 in tap water

The Environmental Protection Agency has asked local US communities to test more carefully for hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen.
After preliminary health studies, the EPA opted Wednesday to classify the chemical known as chromium-6 as one likely to cause cancer in humans when ingested over the course of a lifetime.

It adopted a rule of a maximum 100 parts per billion, and urged managers of water systems with their source in ground water be tested two times a year, versus four times a year for systems with surface water sources.

"EPA's latest data show that no public water systems are in violation of the standard," the agency said in a statement.

Still, a private US environmental group has found that drinking water in many American cities contains hexavalent chromium, The Washington Post reported last month.

The study by the Environmental Working Group — the first nationwide analysis measuring the presence of the chemical in US water systems — found hexavalent chromium in the tap water of 31 out of 35 cities sampled.

Of those, 25 had levels that exceeded the goal proposed in California, which has been aggressively trying to reduce the chemical in its water supply.

Hexavalent chromium has long been known to cause lung cancer when inhaled, and scientists recently found evidence that it causes cancer in laboratory animals when ingested. It has been linked to liver and kidney damage in animals, as well as leukemia, stomach cancer and other cancers.

A widely used industrial chemical until the early 1990s, hexavalent chromium is still used in some industries, including chrome plating and the manufacturing of plastics and dyes. The chemical can also leach into groundwater from natural ores.

The chemical compound was first made famous in the hit 2000 Hollywood movie "Erin Brockovich" about the eponymous environmental crusader.


Kenya: Researchers Seek Ways to Improve Water Supply Using Mobile Phones

Nairobi — Researchers are working to use the mobile phone to enhance water management in Kenya.

A team of experts from the University of Oxford, Rural Focus Limited (Kenya) and ZamDex in Zambia hopes to use the opportunities the handset presents.

The Smart Water Systems will exploit innovations in metering and communications to improve water supplies and management.

By the end of this year more Kenyan households would have mobile phones than access to enough safe water, but this can change.

"Africa may soon lead the world in the adoption of new technologies to address its oldest problem -- insufficient access to water," they said.

The group's work is financed by the UK through the Department for International Development.

The team has fingered Kenya and Zambia as being "particularly interesting case studies" and a workshop will take place today in Nairobi.

Present will include Ministry of Water and Irrigation as well as water services boards staff, service providers, mobile telephone operators, banks and donor agencies.

Water Services Regulatory Board CEO Robert Gakubia said the smart water systems could improve Kenya's water supplies.

"There is no transparency without information, which means that information is key to good governance in the water sector."Mr Gabukia is expected to deliver a keynote address.

The goal of the workshop is to provide a platform on how smart water system can lead to increased accountability and improved water supply and the problems in achieving these.

The experts reiterate that the approach would lead to smart metering and payment using mobile banking.

"Smart water system offers the potential to improve the lives of millions of Kenyans who are able to pay for their water provided they receive it in a sustainable, affordable and acceptable manner," an expert said.

The system would improve water conservation by discouraging waste since data would provide information on availability and use.

Finance and operations would be improved by reducing un-accounted revenue. A pilot phase is planned as the second stage of the project.


Study Compares Alcohol-Based Hand Rubs to Traditional Hand Washing

Researchers conducted a study to see whether disinfection with an alcohol-based hand rub is more tolerable than traditional handwashing with mild soap and water, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The study was conducted through the summer and winter at nine healthcare sites and included 1,932 assessments. Results from the study showed traditional handwashing is a risk factor for skin dryness and irritation. On the other hand, alcohol-based hand rubs caused no skin irritation or dryness and could possible have a protective effect.