Hygienic Toilet Seats Not So Hygienic?

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A new, motorized system that wraps toilet seats in plastic is supposed to make going to the bathroom at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport more hygienic, but a published report leaves that open to doubt.

Here’s how the system works: When a person approaches the toilet, a sensor triggers a clean plastic wrapping to rotate onto the toilet seat, replacing the old one.

The new wrapping is supposed to make the process cleaner. But as it rotates onto the seat, the wrapping apparently can pull liquid from the rim of the toilet bowl to the sitting surface.

On a tip from a reader that the seats were unsanitary, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulos went to the airport, poured orange juice onto and into the toilet, and then watched as some of that juice turned up on the sitting area of the wrapping after it rotated around the toilet seat.

The system is run by United Maintenance Co. Inc., a contractor employed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel on a five-year deal worth close to $100 million.

A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office referred all questions to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

The problem may be caused by “a water pressure issue” that is being addressed, Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride told ABC News on Tuesday. Pride said that the airport has yet to receive any complaints about the purportedly hygienic seat covers.

Messages left by ABC News with United Maintenance went unreturned.

O’Hare, the country’s second busiest airport, serviced nearly 67 million passengers in 2011.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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