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Waterless urinals make a splash

July 22, 2009
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ALBANY, NY — In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) installed waterless urinals in their building, according to the Times Union.
According to the story, complaints by state workers abound that waterless urinals at the 625 Broadway building have created unhealthy conditions complete with "splash back," "puddles of urine on the floor" and "unpleasant odor."
In April, state workers filed a union grievance — dismissed by both the DEC and the Governor''s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) — alleging a health hazard and a violation of work rules protecting employees from "elements, such as filth or pathogens," the story stated.
GOER Assistant Director for Safety and Health Charles Vejvoda listed possible remedies, including the use of such protective equipment as rain gear, aprons, rubber boots, gloves or even reducing fluid intake, but concluded that such actions were not feasible.
The DEC headquarters, managed by the state Office of General Services (OGS), is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and the waterless urinals played a major role in obtaining the certification, the story noted.
According to the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), waterless toilets and urinals work well and are environmentally preferable but require maintenance such as replacing cartridges and frequent cleaning.
The Office of General Services is working with the building''s landlord to mitigate the problems by increasing cleaning and maintenance frequencies rather than removing the urinals, the story added.
Vejvoda said: "This reviewer does find the assertion that someone is ''urinating above the urinals'' quite troubling inasmuch as such a healthy stream would be uncommon in a workforce whose average age is 48."
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