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Solar Heating Improves Hygiene in Rural China
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Energy experts have devised a cost-effective solar energy bathing scheme aimed at introducing the China's rural population to the joys of a hot bath.

Statistics show that at least 200 million out of China's 800 million rural residents only bathe once a month. Tens of millions were found to bathe only once every quarter or every six months. Poor hygiene in turn can lead to the spread of diseases. 

The problem is particularly bad in western Chinese villages where some farmers and herdsmen may not bathe for a whole lifetime. 

Solar energy is being promoted in China's countryside as an alternative to inefficient and polluting gas stoves. The stoves burn low-quality briquette containing sulfur dioxide and other poisonous elements which can harm health and the environment.

A solar energy bathing scheme set up by the Shandong-based Huangming Solar Energy Group and the Yijianeng Solar Energy Company brought the idea of regular bathing to Zhuangke village in Dezhou city, east China's Shandong Province last winter.

For a fee of one yuan (12.5 US cents) per head and 1.5 yuan (18.75 cents) in winter more than 1,000 people can make use of a village bathhouse. Over 100 solar energy bathhouses have been opened in Dezhou.

Solar energy experts say more than 150 million Chinese people are using solar energy water heaters. 

A public fund for China's solar energy development is managed by the Huangming Group and Yijianeng Company and they've invested around eight million yuan (about US$1 million) in the construction of solar energy bathhouses in China's rural areas.

(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2006)

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