Thursday, June 24, 2010

Plumbers vs Waterless Urinals

In many ways, life is better on this side of the Colorado. For example, however crazy we are about immigration--and wasn't that craziness imported from So. Cal?--the pollution in our air doesn't cause the sort of dementia that makes waterless urinals controversial.

Via Wired, we have a report that the plumbers' union in Southern California attempted to ban waterless urinals, and that it made some rather nutty claims to support this:
To buttress their health claims, plumbing unions in California hired Phyllis Fox, an environmental engineer and water quality specialist. She conducted her own analysis, which involved visiting men’s rooms to acquaint herself with the subject matter. Fox didn’t perform any tests, but by examining the designs of the Falcon and other waterless urinals, she concluded that hydrogen sulfide gases in the sewer lines could escape when the cartridges were replaced, resulting in “unconsciousness, respiratory paralysis, and death.” In other words, the waterless urinal could kill.

Yes, janitors in the many Arizona public buildings with flushless urinals die of hydrogen sulfide poisoning. All the time. That is, if they survive traffic: our gun laws mean that shootouts over lane changes and parking disputes happen everyday.

But seriously, this dispute shouldn't be happening. Other states can look to Arizona and conclude that flushless urinals are safe and effective.

Read the original article: it has quite a few Arizona connections, including a somewhat humorous account of a plumbing incident at Fort Huachuca, and some interesting facts. I had no idea how much electricity was used for water pumping, and didn't consider that flushing a urinal aerosolized bacteria, either.

On Earth Day, I recommended that more businesses install these urinals, and additionally that people just "lift a leg" from time to time. There's no sense in contaminating clean drinking water with human waste.

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