The following is from a blog by Beth Shumate, eHow Contributing Writer and contains my response.
Waterless Urinals: Pros, Cons…and a Response
The following is from a blog posted by Beth Shumate, a freelance writer, a full-time tourism communications manager, news reporter, magazine contributor and software documentation writer. She holds a B.A. in journalism from Henderson State University in Arkansas, and proudly became a Texan in 1987.
The Pros and Cons of No-Water Urinal Systems
The main argument in favor of the waterless urinal is their water-saving design, making them easier on the environment and a popular purchase for governments and buildings wanting to make a positive environmental impact. Urinals made before 1993 used about 3 gallons of water with each flush. Standard water-flushing now use about 1 gallon per flush. Waterless urinals, of course, use no water, making them more environmentally friendly.
Waterless urinals have also proven themselves to be more cost-effective to use than their flushing counterparts. The initial money saving comes, obviously, from having no water usage. The urine traps built into the waterless urinals only need to be changed a handful of times per year. The refills, less than $10 each on some models, cost far less in a year than the thousands of gallons of water used each year to operate flushable units.
Waterless urinals require considerably less maintenance than the flushable styles. Aside from the time needed to change out the urine traps, facilities using waterless urinals tend to need fewer maintenance calls because there are no water pipes for a plumber to maintain, repair or unclog. Flushable urinals, even the low-flow variety, often encounter limestone buildup in the pipes that needs to be cleaned out.
Some users of waterless urinals have reported splash-back onto their clothing and exposed skin due to the lack of moisture in the urinal and the design of the urinal drain.
With no water to wash down the urine, some who are against the use of waterless urinals feel that waterless urinals cause hygiene issues. Bacteria can remain in the unit and emit fumes that carry airborne, infectious diseases that are spread as users of the urinals breathe in the fumes.
Beth, of course I wholeheartedly thank you for the favorable comments regarding no-water urinal systems. And, since you did an excellent job pointing out the positives, there is no need for me to expand on the benefits of these systems, at least not in this forum.
However, I would like to address the two “cons” posted on your blog. The splash-back issue mentioned is actually common to every urinal, flushed or no flush urinals. Typically, this is rectified when men urinate against the interior side wall of the urinal instead of the bottom of the urinal.
The non-hygienic comment deserves more attention. The truth of the matter is, because there is no water used in a waterless system, the sides of the urinal tends to stay dry. Bacteria, which grow in moist surroundings, can cause odors, and multiply quickly in wet areas.
Studies by Dr. Charles Gerba and other scientists support these findings. According to one of Gerba’s reports:
“Study results indicated that there was no statistically significant difference between the … no-water or the water-flushing urinals in the amount of ammonia gas (which is an odor associated with some urinals) measured inside the urinal bowl or at the bowl lip. No ammonia gas was measured at the return vent for either urinal. Furthermore, none of the sampling data indicated ammonia gas levels that even approached the lower threshold for human detection of 20 parts per million. Therefore, odors perceptual to humans were absent from the vicinity of both urinals.”
It is essential to remember that refilling the sealing liquid when needed, as is performed on most no-water urinal systems, and proper cleaning are the most important means to controlling odor.
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