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Feature: Nanotechnology helps keep good hygiene in famed Turkish bath

ISTANBUL, March 10 (Xinhua) -- It is very common to take a bath, yet it is quite a different experience to bathe in Istanbul's famed hamams, or bath houses.

Bathing in a hamam is similar to that of a sauna, but is more closely related to ancient Greek and ancient Roman bathing practices, and it involves services like washing, aromatherapy oil massage, reflexology, Indian head massage and facial clay mask.

As a matter of fact, visiting a hamam usually constitutes an essential part of one's tour of Turkey.

It is believed that bathing at least once a week in a hamam helps keep good health, as it removes body toxins by regular sweating. It is good for treating ailments like bronchial asthma, bronchitis and coughing fit.

Istanbul boasts the most spectacular hamams in the country, with Cagaloglu Hamami topping the list for its lavishly-arched and domed steam rooms.

On a sunny day, a group of tourists were seen gathering in front of Cagaloglu, nearly 300 years old now, with some examining the prices and services, while others busy in taking pictures.

Both tourists and local Turks alike are fans of Turkish baths, said Banu Cagdas, the owner of Cagaloglu.

Inside a hamam, the hot room, which is the main room of the bath, can be quickly turned into a place for celebrations of birthdays, weddings and many other social activities.

As customers are flocking and their number growing, hygiene appears to be the most important issue for Turkish baths.

"Visually there is nothing," said Cagdas. "It looks like every corner is clean and no one can see the germs and viruses with the naked eye."

Generally, Turkish baths have been using the traditional ways to maintain the state of hygiene, like bleach.

"The sterilization with bleach, especially a long-lasting sterilization, is very difficult to achieve," Cagdas said, noting that after two hours of the cleaning, micro-organisms and bacteria start to reproduce again due to the warm and humid environment.

Fungal infections are among the most common diseases in Turkish baths. "Then comes all kind of genital diseases," said Cagdas.

Now it seems Cagaloglu's management has found the key to a long-lasting sterilization with the help of nanotechnology.

The team is turning to a cleaning agent developed by Turkish engineers from Sabanci University in Istanbul. The product, the result of five-year efforts based on nanotechnology, is called Antimics.

"This new agent is the second one in the world along with an American patented product," said Dilek Menceoglu, head of the Nanotego production company.

Antimics can stunt the production of germs, viruses, bacteria and fungi.

"We have been applying the solution to Cagaloglu bath once a month and we observe the rate of bacterium has been dropping each time even further," Menceoglu told Xinhua.

She explained that Antimics enables the bath's surface to be covered with a tiny antimicrobial coating and "no single microbe, virus or bacterium can hold on to after the application."

"Every time we do the cleaning we witness that the bacteria level has been dropping drastically," she said.

In addition, the eco-friendly new product is not harmful to humans, as opposed to the traditional disinfectant detergents that contain chemicals.

"Antimics does not endanger human health as it contains no heavy metals and toxic chemicals," Menceoglu said, describing it as a water-based agent that can be used in hospitals, kindergartens and swimming pools.

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