Want to seriously gross out? Hocking up loogies is common practice in China. Eeeew!
That’s right, walk down any street in Beijing and you’ll enjoy the sights and sounds of people hacking up their lungs. Many people in China believe that spitting is actually good for your health. “It’s good to spit, it’s good for your health,” says a 40-year-old man unapologetically as he rubs his shoe over the foul puddle he has just created.
Spitting in China is culturally acceptable, however, the government is trying to stop it; mainly because it’s “uncivilized” (and the Olympics are coming, so better to be on civilized behavior), but spitting can also spread disease. Phlegm can carry microorganisms like bacteria or viruses, some of the health ills the Chinese have been plagued with. According to Li Yan, a respiratory disease expert at Beijing’s Xuanwu Hospital, air-borne respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and influenza can be spread by the phlegm of a disease carrier. She said widespread respiratory infections, partly due to China’s polluted environment, and the population’s lack of hygiene awareness contribute to the spitting habit.
Well, apparently the Chinese government will have their hands full trying to curb an age-old habit. And it’s not just the spreading of disease; according to experts, expelled, phlegmy saliva freezes during the winter and becomes slippery like an oil slick, posing a danger to pedestrians and cyclists alike, who often slip and fall from a frozen piece of funk. Oh well, if you plan on going to the Olympics next year, just watch for the Hu Flung Fu.