Posts Tagged ‘toilet’

At first glance, Littleton looks like ground zero for Halloween pranksters this year — toilet paper is strewn across street after street and block after block.

The messy look prompted a few irritated inquiries from residents on the city’s Facebook page this week, like this one from Madison Lucas: “This is UGLY!! All over Littleton!!” Or from Stephanie Gregory : “My kids and I thought it was vandalism.”

But the TP’ing scheme is actually the work of the city itself. Littleton is using bathroom tissue as part of an effort to seal the myriad cracks that plague road surfaces in this city. It is tackling 120 streets with this bottoms-up tactic.

“I was trying to decide if there was a homecoming parade and wind had blown decorations off a float,” said Nancy Worthington, who noticed the paper all over a street near Broadway and County Line Road the other day.

Once she got an explanation from the city, she determined that the pavement patching process is a “brilliant idea.”

The TP, applied with a paint roller, absorbs the oil from freshly laid tar as it dries, keeping it from sticking to people’s shoes or car and bike tires. With the paper’s protective abilities, asphalt isn’t tracked all over the city or splattered on wheel wells. And the biodegradable paper breaks down and disappears in a matter of days.

“Since my car is new, I didn’t want it to get damaged,” Worthington said.

Kelli Narde, a spokeswoman for Littleton, said the real benefit of using toilet paper is that it allows traffic to retake the road right after a crack is filled.

“It means traffic has better access because we don’t have to close down a street to do the sealing,” she said.

Littleton is not the first to take this approach to wiping out cracks on its roadways. Lincoln, Neb., is one of a number of cities across the United States that have already spun the center roll to address deteriorating asphalt.

“We use it so we can keep moving and get more done,” said Clay Engelman, a district supervisor in the city’s street and traffic operations division.

He said the tar sets in about 40 minutes but that with the paper in place as a protective and absorbent cover, traffic can hit the street right away. The one big lesson learned by Lincoln: don’t use two-ply bath tissue. Engelman said the upper ply doesn’t absorb the oil and ends up blowing into people’s yards.

Lincoln has used toilet paper in its crack-closing campaign since 2014; Littleton began using it last month.

It’s not clear how many communities in Colorado rip from the roll when it comes time to blot the crack. The state’s largest city doesn’t resort to toilet tricks for its road repairs, according to Denver Department of Public Works spokeswoman Heather Burke-Bellile.

“We’ve never used toilet paper for crack sealing!” she wrote in a particularly declarative e-mail.

Amy Ford, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said she hadn’t heard of the practice being used in the state before. But she was more than willing to express her feelings about Littleton’s lavatory-linked labors.

“CDOT feels that clean cracks help improve the smoothness of everyone’s experience (on our roads),” she said.

The agency actually includes TP in its list of “blotting” materials for sealant application. According to the 2014 “CDOT Hot Mix Asphalt Crack Sealing and Filling Best Practices Guidelines,” a material may be needed to “reduce or minimize tracking of the sealant by vehicle tires. Common blotting materials include toilet paper, talcum powder, limestone dust, sand, or proprietary, spray-applied detackifiers.”

Narde said Littleton had been pitched a number of expensive blotting products but that toilet paper — single-ply, mind you — works best.

“Even though it looks like a Halloween prank, it works and it’s very inexpensive,” she said.

Littleton TP’s its own streets as a way to fill its cracks — single-ply only


By Agence France-Presse

Firemen in Norway came to the rescue Friday of a man who climbed into an outdoor public toilet to retrieve a friend’s cell phone, after he got stuck in the tank.

Cato Berntsen Larsen, 20, was able to climb through the toilet seat opening to recover the phone lying at the bottom of the outhouse, but was unable to climb back out again.

“First we tried to get the phone with a stick but that didn’t work. So I jumped in,” he told daily VG.

“I was down there an hour, I was panicking,” he said, adding there were “animals” crawling on his body.

Overcome by nausea and vomiting, he tried in vain to pull himself of the tank, and which is only emptied once a year, according to VG.

He ultimately decided to contact the fire brigade to help end his ordeal in the small town of Drammen outside Oslo.

“It was a fairly easy task for us. We sent a four-man crew with a chainsaw and they cut open the front of the (plastic) toilet,” fire brigade spokeswoman Tina Brock told AFP NEWS agency.

The rescue was a “first” for the local fire brigade, she acknowledged. “It was pretty full down there.”

The phone was not recovered.


Other than dung beetles, most animals try their best to avoid poop. Humans typically build entire rooms designed to flush the stuff away. The ick factor evolved for good reason: fecal matter is a great place for microorganisms to live and grow, some of which can lead to serious infection and illness.
Like us, many insects that live in colonies have evolved ways of keeping their nests and hives sanitary. Honeybees perform so-called defecation flights, in which they leave the nest to do their business. Some ants, like leaf-cutters, use their feces as manure for gardens that grow fungal food, but only certain “sanitation workers” are permitted to handle it. Ants in general are well known for their cleanliness—disposing of the dead outside the nest and leaving food scraps and other waste in special refuse chambers.

Thus, University of Regensburg biologist Tomer J. Czaczkes was surprised when he noticed dark patches accumulating in the corners of the white plaster nests in which his black garden ants, Lasius niger, lived. Over seven years of observations, he became convinced the dark patches were made of feces.
To confirm his suspicion, Czaczkes added artificial coloring to the ants’ food for 21 colonies. Sure enough, the dark patches started showing up in brilliant shades of red and blue. Because the piles of ant poo never contained food scraps, corpses or other debris, Czaczkes and his colleagues conclude that referring to these spots as “toilets” is apt. The results were detailed in the February issue of PLOS ONE.

No one is sure why black garden ants keep their feces inside the nest, especially given that Formicidae are otherwise fastidious housekeepers. Perhaps it is used for defense, for territory demarcation or as a building material. Or it could serve as a source of salt or other nutrients. Another possibility, according to Czaczkes, is that the waste is stored precisely because it is stinky. “Ants tell friend from foe apart by their smell,” he explains. “Perhaps newly emerged ants go to the toilet and sort of ‘bathe’ in it, to pick up the colony smell quickly.” Each explanation is plausible, so more research will be necessary to determine the best one.

“The next obvious step is a lot of boring observation, where I hope to catch the ants using the toilets,” he says. To covertly watch them do their business, Czaczkes will have to make nests with see-through lids and work under red light, which the ants cannot see. Onward, entomology.

A Montana county plans to dispose of more than three dozen Cold War-era sanitation kits meant to provide makeshift bathroom facilities for fallout shelters.

Forty-two fiberboard drums labeled “SK IV Sanitation Kit” were shipped to Gallatin County in January 1964, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle ( reported.

The kits contain a toilet seat, commode liner, 10 rolls of toilet paper that people were cautioned to “USE SPARINGLY,” along with commode chemical. The seat fits on top of the lined drum.

The kits are a reminder of “the subtle but real fear of a nuclear World War III,” said Shane Hope, an archaeologist in the county’s Historic Preservation Board.

After county officials determined they didn’t need the kits any more, they found out the Department of Defense didn’t want them back. The Federal Emergency Management Agency had no use for them, either.

The county has offered some of the kits to museums. The rest may be sold at auction. A value and date haven’t been set.

The kits include instructions for setting up and using the commodes. When the waste reaches “the level of the sanitary fill line on the drum,” users are instructed to put on the included rubber gloves, use the included wire tie to close up the liner and put the lid back on the drum.

“DO NOT REMOVE THE FILLED BAGS FROM THE DRUM,” the instructions caution. And if you need to move the drum, it is preferable to slide it across the floor instead of tilting or lifting.

The drums, which were furnished by the Office of Civil Defense, also included drinking cups and a can opener to open metal cans of food or to pry lids from water-storage drums.

Instead of flushing millions down the toilet, humans could be mining their poop for gold.

That’s at least what some researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) think. They’re looking for ways to squeeze metals like gold and silver out of solid waste.

When poop arrives at a wastewater treatment plant, it is separated into biosolids and treated water. Inevitably about half of the biosolids (3.5 million tons in the United States alone) is sent to landfills or incinerated, while the other half is used as fertilizer.

Kathleen Smith, a USGS geologist, thinks people could make more of these biosolids; they’re full of tiny particles of metals that find their way into waste through beauty products, detergents and even odor-resistant clothing.

There are two good reasons to try to pull these metals out of poop, according to Smith, who’s presenting her research on the subject at an American Chemical Society meeting this week.

“If you can get rid of some of the nuisance metals that currently limit how much of these biosolids we can use on fields and forests, and at the same time recover valuable metals and other elements, that’s a win-win,” Smith explained in a statement.

The same chemicals (called leachates) that miners use to pull metals out of rock could be safely used to pull metals from waste, Smith and her colleagues found. The researchers have examined waste samples from small towns in the Rocky Mountains, as well as in rural areas and cities. They detected some sizable concentrations of platinum, silver and gold when they looked at their samples under a scanning electron microscope, they reported.

“The gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit,” Smith said. In other words, if that level of gold were observed in rock, it would be considered a potential mining prospect.

It’s not just gold that could be mined and sold. Waste contains elements like vanadium and copper that could be used in devices such as cellphones and computers, the researchers said.

The economic value of poop mining is still unclear, but some recent projections have been promising. Earlier this year, another group of researchers published a paper in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, estimating that metals extracted from poop in a population of 1 million people could yield $13 million per year.