Scary public loos in Poland need make-over for Euro 2012

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Public toilets in Polish railway and bus stations, on trains and in camp grounds need a major make-over for the UEFA Euro 2012 championships Poland will co-host with Ukraine, experts said Tuesday.

"Not every football fan or tourist will get to the stadium, but all will visit our public lavatories and their standard speaks about Poland as a nation," Arkadiusz Choczaj, leader of the so-called "Clean Patrol" campaign, told reporters in Warsaw.

"Clean Patrols", made up of volunteer inspectors dressed in white overalls, recently sniffed around 200 public toilets in six Polish cities slated as Euro 2012 venues or back-ups.

"We hope the impact of our campaign will mean that by next year we won't have to use this tissue to warn the public away from embarrassingly neglected toilets," fellow "Clean Patrol" co-ordinator Andrzej Smolko said, waving a roll of yellow-and-black striped toilet paper embossed with the phrase "Crime Scene - Do Not Cross" in black letters.

Public potties were rated on accessibility, hygiene, smell and whether toilet paper, soap and hand towels were available.

Just one toilet scored a perfect 100 points, while a three-quarters majority rated 65 points, the basic acceptable standard.

Loos in airports, hotels, restaurants and cafes were rated the highest by both the patrols and tourists surveyed by the independent TNS OBOP pollsters. Poland's tourist-magnet southern city of Krakow received the highest ratings.

"Our toilets there are better prepared for these championships than our football players," Choczaj joked of Poland's national side, eliminated from the 2010 World Cup qualifiers in September.

At the bottom of the rankings were a quarter of public restrooms -- in train and bus stations, on trains and in camp grounds -- rated as danger zones by the patrols and foreign tourists alike.

Tourists complained that public toilets were few and far between and nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said existing public facilities needed improvement.

"Regardless of the Euro finals, we have to improve standards because, let's face it, we want to live in a country that doesn't stink," Jan Orgelbrand, head of Poland's Chief Sanitary Inspectorate said.

The "Clean Patrol" project was co-sponsored by CWS-boco, a sanitary products supplier.