Plumbing is public health, now and in the future. Just as Vaccination Protects Individuals and the Community. Plumbing Protects the Whole Community, and Individually Plumbers Protect the Health of the Nation.
The plumbers at Whywait Plumbing every day protecting your health
Albert Einstein towards the end of his life in 1954 wrote “If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber.”
Einstein, like many others, recognised that plumbing is public health, now, and in the future.
A survey of 11000 doctors by the British Medical Journal in 2007 voted hands down that the world’s greatest medical milestone since 1840 was sanitation. Despite all the tremendous medical breakthroughs and scientific advances, the seemingly mundane advance of reliable sewage and reliably clean water supply was judged the most significant medical advance.
The recognition of reliable sewage and water supply is a testament to the strength of plumbing laws, standards, and licensing in not only Australia but also in Europe and North America. This is because doctors recognised the best measure of medical advance is not its complexity, but what it does for the average person concerning the length and quality of our lives. The average life expectancy has increased 35 years since 1840, and roughly 30 of those years are attributable to the advances in sanitation and living conditions.
For most of us in Australia, plumbing is something we take for granted. We have never known what it is like not to have on-demand clean running water inside our homes or a fully functional sewer system to take away the used water. Close to 90% of us live in an urban environment, and for that, we can thank plumbing, that allows us to do so safely, without fear of contracting waterborne diseases. Yet even plumbers fail to understand the impact that they have on modern urban society and that their work is essential as plumbing is public health.
Clean potable water is the basis for life and without it the risk to public health and the population as a whole increase. The cost to the community of plumbing failures are substantial and always have been. Plumbing is and always has been a significant part of the public health system. This was first learnt by the Romans, who were the first civilised society over 2000 years ago to realise the requirements to have an integrated plumbing system to pipe in clean water and dispose of used water.
In Asia alone, some 2 billion people, which is over 60% of the population of Asia, live without adequate access to sanitation such as toilets. In many places, open sewers are the norm. This would not be tolerated in Australia, and we are protected from it by our plumbing laws.
Recent natural disasters here in Australia and internationally are essential reminders of the role plumbing plays in modern life. Homes in Brisbane during the recent floods were made uninhabitable with the loss of plumbing. This is further reinforced by the earthquakes in Christchurch, the tsunami in Japan, cyclones in North Queensland, and the floods in Victoria where homes were not suitable to be lived in again until full plumbing services were reinstalled. In all of these natural disasters, the restoration of plumbing was a significant component of the recovery process.
As with everything in life, change is the constant and this is undoubtedly true of plumbing. As we solve one problem, another one arises. Diseases related to water always have required vigilance in preventing their spread. This is as true today as it has always been. As always, this is where the plumbing will once again prove to be a significant part of the solution.
The mosquito has always been a significant source of transmission of serious diseases such as malaria, ross river fever, dengue fever, to name a few. New arboviruses such as Chikungunya are increasingly a threat to Australia. These emerging infectious diseases are all spread by mosquito and are dependant on water. This intimate dependency on water increase risk without high plumbing standards of becoming endemic in Australia.
With the increasing threat to the community from the mosquito-spread of waterborne strong plumbing, practices are essential.
Plumbers have a continuing obligation to the community to use their knowledge and experience to demonstrate the impact that poor plumbing could have in the future because plumbing is public health.
Waterless urinals are much more than water conservation
Commercial building owners ten years ago were predominantly concerned with maintaining a clean public toilet facility, and little or no thought was given to sustainability. It was a known operational fact that especially for businesses that had a high movement of people that the cleanliness of their toilet facilities boosted the success of that business.
ZF101 Zeroflush waterless urinals being installed at Enoggera army base by David Hutchins of Whywait Plumbing
According to a recent industry survey, more than 75% of adults would avoid a restaurant, hotel or shopping centre if they encountered dirty toilets. A clean and hygienic bathroom is absolutely critical for any building. In many ways, the toilet facilities act as an ambassador and speak volumes about the overall management of a building.
In recent years it has become increasingly clear that building managers must also strive for sustainability. As such, businesses and building owners and managers strive to incorporate products that are not only sustainable but are visibly environmentally friendly.
As one of the most visible areas of any building, the toilet facilities are the source of more complaints than any other operational aspect of a building. Unfortunately, public toilet facilities are one of the most challenging areas in a building to keep clean. Sustainable product choices in the toilets contribute to a cleaner, more hygienic experience and are also better for the environment.
An area that Whywait Plumbing has not only pioneered but continued to develop a product in is waterless urinals. Waterless urinals such as ZeroFlush waterless urinals are only mentioned in an environmental context, where both the immense water savings of up to 152000 litres and more per urinal, per year and carbon emissions reduction of up to 320kg per urinal, per year are cited.
ZeroFlush waterless urinals reduce odours
There is a common misconception that waterless urinals are not as hygienic as their flush urinal counterparts. However, waterless urinal systems actually reduce odours and contribute to a cleaner, more sanitary public toilet facility. A few facts demonstrate why:
- Urine is virtually odourless.
- Urine odour primarily results from the reaction of urine with water and air.
- Without water, the urinal quickly dries between uses and produces no detectable odour.
Waterless urinals reduce disease-carrying microorganisms
Dr Michael Hoffman, professor of environmental science and dean of graduate studies at the California Institute of Technology, concluded in an independent study that, “The dual barrier system provided in waterless urinals are predicted to be 500 times more effective against the back migration of sewer gases as compared to conventional P-trap water barriers.”
Bacteria and viruses thrive on moist surfaces, and the wet surface of a water flushing urinal is a breeding ground for their growth. Flushing doesn’t kill bacteria and viruses. Worse, the flush creates a mist that spreads bacteria and viruses to every surface in the toilet facility.
Dr Charles Gerba, professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, explains, “Waterless urinals offer a major improvement in public sanitation. Flushing is eliminated, which greatly reduces the almost continuous production of microbial aerosols, and the surface and sides of urinals are drier, which reduces the survival of human disease-carrying microorganisms and prevents their growth.”
According to the Journal of Infection Control, bacteria such as those that cause the influenza virus can thrive and linger on surfaces for up to 72 hours. As a result, water flushing urinals contain more bacteria and microorganisms than waterless urinals. The waterless feature of waterless urinals can help reduce the risk of cross-contamination because users are not required to touch a flushing device that may harbour bacteria.
ZeroFlush waterless urinals ensure a user-friendly experience
Waterless urinals require minimum maintenance to ensure a clean, hygienic, sustainable, user-friendly experience. The ZeroFlush waterless urinal installed by Whywait Plumbing requires like all urinals periodic maintenance. At the same time, daily it is merely a matter of a simple spray of the urinal with Spray and Go a mild cleaner that requires no wiping clean as you would with a flush urinal. Because there’s no water, there will be no limescale or calcite build-up, which makes cleaning fast and easy.
With ZeroFlush waterless urinals, building owners and managers can be assured that their public toilet facilities will be sustainable, cleaner, and the experience of their clients will be both hands-free and hygienic.
To find out more about ZeroFlush waterless urinals call Whywait Plumbing on (07) 5580 4311 to organise a site audit.