CLOSE
iStock
iStock

Want To Talk To Fellow Poopers While You Go? There's An App For That

iStock
iStock

You're a good person, so you know not to talk to strangers in public restrooms while they do their business—especially if you can tell it's business of the No. 2 variety. But maybe you've always longed for a world without the rigid rules of social decency that keep us from having meaningful, anonymous conversations from atop the toilet. If so, there's a new app for you.

Pooductive was created by developer Ricardo Gruber and a fellow student with a very simple premise: It's a social network for people who happen to be using the bathroom at the same time. You can choose a group chat or one-on-one and be matched with fellow poopers either locally or globally. Gruber first tried to get the app off the ground with a Kickstarter that garnered just three backers and 184 British pounds (out of their 10,000 pound goal). But the app bounced back and is currently available for free download on the iPhone.

Along with the simple messaging feature, users are encouraged to select "songs that describe it," which some might think is a little bit too much information, but those people probably aren't on this app anyway.

The Pooductive website describes the app as:

A place of magic and wonder where people from all 7 kingdoms can meet to seek refuge and enjoy their time of zen, peace and quite together, by conversing, philosophising and sharing ideas with each other...whilst sitting on their iron thrones.

But the creators have an even loftier goal in mind. The team explained to The Guardian via email that although the first round of press attention came before this particular feature could be worked out, they "hope to connect Pooductive with some big charities that focus on both clean water and improving hygiene in developing countries."

They have since added a call for donations to charity: water to their site.

[h/t Mashable]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Health
A Chemical in Bed Bug Poop Might Be Making You Feel Sick
iStock
iStock

Bed bugs can give you nasty bites and a lifetime of nightmares, but scientists have long wondered if the creepy parasites can pass diseases to their hosts. For years, the general consensus was no: Unlike ticks, mosquitos, and other insects that are known to feast on human blood, bed bugs aren't packing any harmful pathogens in their bites. Yet according to a new study, spotted by Gizmodo, the bugs don't need to nibble on us to make us sick. Histamines in their poop might be aggravating our immune systems.

For their study, recently published in the journal PLOS One, scientists at North Carolina State University tested the dust in a bed bug-infested apartment complex. They found that samples from some infested homes had histamine levels 20 times higher than those without bed bugs. This was still the case three months after the buildings had been treated by exterminators.

Histamine is a chemical compound produced by our bodies. In small amounts, it works as a vital part of our immune system. It's activated in the presence of allergens, irritants, and pathogens. Say a puff of dust goes up your nose: Histamine is what prompts your body to sneeze it out. It's also the culprit behind the watery eyes, runny nose, and itchy skin you might experience during an allergy attack (which is why you might take an antihistamine to calm these symptoms).

But we're not alone in our ability to produce histamine. Recent research has shown that the chemical is present in bed bug feces. When the insects poop, they spray histamines into the same air that homeowners breathe. A few whiffs of the stuff is likely nothing to worry about, but scientists are concerned about the effects environmental histamine can have on people over an extended period of time. The chemical compound can cause allergic reactions on its own and possibly make us more vulnerable to existing allergens. The implications are especially serious for people with asthma.

"Dermal, nasal, or respiratory responses (e.g. bronchial reactivity) to histamine in clinical tests suggest that exposure to histamine in the environment would constitute a significant health risk, although information on environmental exposure is limited," the study authors write.

For now, scientists can do nothing but speculate on what these results might mean for public health. Humans are prepared to treat only histamine that's produced by our own bodies, and dealing with the effects on histamine spread by bed bugs is uncharted territory for doctors and scientists. How exactly bed bugs obtain the chemicals in the first place is also unclear, but researchers suspect that it's a combination of the blood they suck from us and histamine they make on their own as a type of pheromone, indicating to other bed bugs that a place is safe to invade.

Following this study, the North Carolina State scientists plan to conduct more intensive research on the impact histamine produced by bed bugs is having on the people who live with it. While the best way to eradicate histamine in bed bug poop is still a mystery, there are plenty of ways to deal with the bugs themselves if you suspect you have an infestation.

[h/t Gizmodo]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Design
Better Sit Down for This: Japan Wants to Modernize Its Squat Toilets for the Tokyo Olympics
Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images
Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP/Getty Images

Culture shock abounds in every foreign country, but few experiences can be as off-putting to an international tourist as walking into a bathroom and encountering a toilet you don't entirely know how to use. Perhaps that's why, in advance of the influx of tourists headed to Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the country is looking to modernize its traditional squat toilets. According to Lonely Planet, the Japanese tourist ministry is trying to encourage municipalities to update their public restrooms with the Western-style toilets that visitors might be more accustomed to.

Though Japan is known for its elaborate, high-tech toilets with built-in bidets, seat heaters, and other perks, many of its public bathrooms have more simple accommodations. According to the country's tourist bureau, out of the 4000 public toilets near Japan's major tourist hot spots, around 42 percent are of the squatting variety rather than the kind with a raised bowl and seat. Now, squat toilets aren't just holes in the ground—they're usually made of the same materials most sitting toilets are and have flushing mechanisms. Except with a squat toilet, the flat ceramic pan is placed at ground level so you can crouch over it to do your business.

To make international visitors who are particular about their toilets more comfortable as they tour Japan, the Japan Tourism Agency has started offering subsidies for local governments that want to renovate their public restrooms. These grants are also available to private businesses and councils, according to Lonely Planet. The money can be used to either add more Western-style toilets or update existing models. (We can only hope some will take the opportunity to buy the kind that plays music.)

It's a bit of a shame that the Japanese government is so invested in getting rid of the country's squat toilets, because squatting is probably better for your health, at least when it comes to hemorrhoids. But at least it will be a welcome change for people with bad knees.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios