High-tech toilets are lighted, play music, test your vital signs

Today is World Toilet Day. Is yours up to snuff?

Worldwide effort

Novelty features aside, innovations such as those that can influence people's health and sanitary conditions could someday be a boon for groups trying to improve sanitation standards worldwide. Some 2.6 billion people around the world lack access to basic sanitation services, according to the United Nations. To raise awareness of substandard conditions, the United Nations has declared 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation.

The UN effort picks up on an issue that sanitation activists such as Jack Sim have long championed. An entrepreneur based in Singapore, Sim established the World Toilet Organization (WTO) in 2001 to unite the various toilet associations that exist globally but in the past lacked a formal means of sharing information with each other. Today, WTO consists of 54 members in 41 countries dedicated to improving sanitation conditions around the globe.

WTO organizes multiple events, including the annual World Toilet Day, which is coming up on November 19, and annual World Toilet Summit, a four-day event held this year in New Delhi, India, in late October.

The purpose of World Toilet Day is a call to action for people to demand clean toilets for all, WTO says. "The public marks the day to practice toilet etiquette, the restroom community-at-large celebrates with a new declaration for the forthcoming year," WTO proclaims.

So take heed, and make sure your own bathroom is clean for the November 19 occasion.

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