Beijing: Even though it is bad for health, many in China prefer to hold their nature`s call to avoid dirty and disgusting toilets.
Muddy floors, dirty squat potties and littered waste paper are common sights in urban public toilets in China, 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, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today ahead of the World Toilet Day.
"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 tomorrow this year.
According to the UN estimates, every US dollar spent on toilets means a 9 US dollar 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, the report said.
Only 16 of the 100-plus subway stations are equipped with toilets in Guangzhou, where 5 million people transport by subway every day.
In an extreme case, a teenage boy was spotted pooping in a carriage on a subway last November. Similar cases have occurred 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 odour and the number of flies and maggots. The standards were widely mocked as it is hard to count flies and to determine how stinky a given stench is.
In September, Shenzhen, also in Guangdong, enacted a regulation imposing a fine of 100 yuan (USD 16.41) on people who urinated outside the toilet bowl.
When public raised questions about the enforcement, urban management workers responded that the regulation was only a warning and no surveillance cameras or personnel would be stationed in public toilets.
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.
Ahead of the World Toilet Day, he 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," Yang said.