Qualified approval for city's public toilets

Shanghai's public toilets are generally clean but there are still issues about smell and broken facilities, the Shanghai Consumer Council said yesterday.

SHANGHAI’S public toilets are generally clean but there are still issues about smell and broken facilities, the Shanghai Consumer Council said yesterday.

The council checked out public wash rooms at 502 places — from shopping malls, scenic spots, wet markets and wholesale markets, gas stations and hospitals; to public transport venues including airports, railway, bus and Metro stations; and hotels, cinemas and roadside toilets.

The council rated them for stench, hygiene, number of people using them, ventilation, facilities, cleaning and anti-slippery resistance level.

The public satisfaction rate overall was nearly 80 percent and almost all public toilets in Shanghai are free, the council said.

The smell at public toilets was rated good at 90.8 percent. Tourist sites topped with 97.1 percent approval rating. The toilets at hotels came in second.

Roadside toilets had the lowest approval rate at 82.7 percent.

“The issue of stink was the top priority among the public,” said Tao Ailian, secretary-general of the council.

Qualified approval for city's public toilets
Shanghai Consumer Council

The council divided smell into different levels — four for strong odor, and three for obvious odor. The council also tested the amount of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide in the air.

“High frequency of use was a feature at hospital toilets, which also serve urinalysis function,” said Tao.

The ventilation at a Metro station toilet on Nanjing Road was blamed for improper design as its air outlet and vent were found to be too close, leading to air circulation problem.

Some toilets at shopping malls in Xuhui District had air outlets without vents or their vents were at a corner, leading to strong stench.

In addition, 17.3 percent of public toilets were found to have broken facilities. Shopping malls had the highest rate for unrepaired facilities at 22 percent, followed by wet markets at 20 percent.

Hospitals were the best at 11.3 percent toilets in that category.

More than 26 percent public toilets were not being cleaned within 30 minutes. Wet markets fared the worst with 45 percent, followed by hotels at 32.5 percent.

“Accurate and detailed management is needed and there should be service and management standard covering the frequency of cleaning and disinfection and repairing facilities to improve the comfort of toilets for residents and tourists,” said Tao. “It is better if toilet staff receive professional training.”

Overall, 52.2 percent public toilets provided hand sanitizer, and 34.1 had free toilet paper. About 58 percent had hand dryer or hand paper. Hotels and cinemas had the highest rate for providing toiletries, with wet markets and hospitals the worst.

The council also randomly checked 60 public toilets for staphylococcus aureus, and the bacterium causing skin infections was not found in any of them.

Toilets in downtown areas are used more frequently. The average user rate of toilets in Huangpu District was 39 people per 30 minutes, compared with five people per 30 minutes in Fengxian District.

Nearly 77 percent of roadside toilets had installed barrier free facilities — the highest. Shopping malls, at 43.1 percent, had the highest rate for offering maternal and infant facilities. Cinemas had the highest rate of unisex toilets.

“There should be more such facilities in toilets at wet markets because they are frequently visited by the disabled and seniors,” said Tao.

Only 10 percent toilets at wet markets had barrier free facilities and none of them had maternal and infant facilities.

Chen Ruixin, a local resident, said she found toilets at some hospitals dirty.

“The smell is unbearable at some hospitals and I use napkins to touch the handle of toilet cubicles,” she said. “I rarely use them because they are not clean, but I cannot avoid them during physical examination.”

Nicole Stewart from the United States said a toilet outside Yuyuan Garden was bad. “That one is probably the worst I’ve used because there are no doors,” she said. “Toilets at shopping malls also vary as super swanky malls in Jing’an or Lujiazui are clean and pristine, yet the smaller malls can be very primitive.”

Angela Xu, a local resident, said she did not have a good impression of toilets at Metro Line 1 and 2 stations.

“They are not cleaned frequently and the smell is bad. There are also long queues,” she said. “Toilets at some of the new Metro lines are outside the stations, which is not convenient.”

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