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Author Topic: Ever become sick from black water?  (Read 4118 times)

191124x7

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Ever become sick from black water?
« on: December 31, 2016, 07:13:33 PM »
I apologize for this post. I don't mean to sound negative, and I very much want to get past my germophobic issues here. So please read it in light of a germophobe, not trying to bash the experience. Any advice greatly appreciated.

As I begin my Rving career, the one thing that's giving me pause is the black water issue. I'm told you can catch stomach viruses just from being close to a person's vomit and/or diarrhea; and it seems that when you open the lid on public dump sites you're potentially catching a whiff of thousands of people's every most nasty stuff -- including viruses.

And it's not just the pipe. If you google 'dump' or 'black water'  and 'fail' you'll get tons of videos of hoses exploding out of pipes, sewage spilling out of the RV, etc. -- all over the dump site. So it seems that walking anywhere near the site is potentially picking up all kinds of nasty stuff on your shoes. It's like -- having to deal with my own family's sewage is one thing (hopefully they are not sick) -- but who knows what you're dealing with around these sites?

Then there's the whole cross contamination thing. I'm thinking the hoses, clear elbow, etc. all go in a bin that gets soaked in bleach water at the end of the trip; and gloves being a must.

Anyway, all this to say -- am I over thinking this and  you all never get sick from being around these dump stations or is it a real concern?

Thanks, and apologies again.


SeilerBird

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2016, 07:20:57 PM »
A lot of people wear gloves. Me, I have never worried about it and never had a problem. I have gotten sick drinking tap water so I have used bottled water exclusively for 40 years.
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NY_Dutch

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2016, 08:08:18 PM »
Like Tom, I've never gotten sick from working with black water, waste hoses, or inhaling around dump stations. Also like Tom, I don't wear gloves, and just take normal cleanliness precautions using hand sanitizer and/or soap and water as available. Unlike Tom, the only drinking water I've ever gotten sick from was bottled water from a local supplier with an e-coli contaminated filter system. The recall came a few days too late...
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Jeff in Ferndale Wa

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2016, 08:20:35 PM »
I don't believe I have ever gotten sick from black water. I wear gloves only because my wife insists and I wash my hands or use a hand sanitizer when I'm done. I store any fittings separate from the drinking water fittings.
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Tom and Margi

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2016, 08:24:31 PM »
We've camped all our lives, tents growing up, TT while the kids where growing up, motorhome  since 1996.  5th wheel since 2007.  No problems at all in the lifelong experience.  Yes.  You are overthinking.  Take reasonable precautions -- I'm not sure from 5 years old to full grown reasonable precautions were ever even an issue.  Relax.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 08:26:27 PM by Tom and Margi »

Rene T

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2016, 08:33:58 PM »
Let me be the first. Welcome to the forum. Feel free to ask any questions no matter how small they may seem to you. No question is too small. Also if you don't know the answer, it's not a dumb question.
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BinaryBob

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2016, 09:11:00 PM »
I used latex gloves once - the first time I dumped the tanks because they came with a little kit that was provided us. Quickly realized they're not necessary. You get the same exposure to germs touching the door handle at a public restroom. A good hand wash with soap and water after. Yes, you're overthinking it.
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HappyWanderer

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2016, 09:29:30 PM »
Cross contamination is not an issue, because your fresh water and waste water systems are isolated from each other - hoses and fittings don't ever mix.

There's no reason to soak your sewer hose or fittings in bleach. Simply store them properly. Clorox wipes are perfect for cleaning anything handled at the dump station. You won't be exposed to airborne pathogens just by being near a dump station

I'm in the glove-wearing crowd, as I always have nicks and cuts on my hands from work. Gloves are removed properly (yes, there's a right way to do it), a little soap and water, I'm good to go.

My dump station motto: dump, rinse, get the hell out of the way.
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Dragginourbedaround

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2016, 09:52:34 PM »

I'm in the glove-wearing crowd, as I always have nicks and cuts on my hands from work. Gloves are removed properly (yes, there's a right way to do it), a little soap and water, I'm good to go.
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supermanotorious

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2016, 09:57:19 PM »
this thread is making me chuckle

nature versus nurture

I wear flip flops EVERY day of the year, even in the snow, when I go snowboarding

I expose myself to all kinds of germs all the time, I have no problem using a stranger's toothbrush (and for those of you finger pointing, let me ask, how many strangers did you/do you make out with at bars- it's actually worse than sharing a toothbrush)

I've gotten black water splashed on my skin (feet, shins) from both our rig and others'

I almost never get sick, maybe once every other year, and it's usually just a flu

my immune system is well exercised and it is tough

sure black water is gross, but am I scared of it? not one bit
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SeilerBird

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2017, 03:18:23 AM »
Cross contamination is not an issue, because your fresh water and waste water systems are isolated from each other - hoses and fittings don't ever mix.
My black water and grey water pipes mix right behind the fitting where I connect the sewer hose so they definitely cross contaminate. Both use the same sewer hose to get to the sewer. I am still not worried and I don't use gloves.
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JackL

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2017, 04:53:23 AM »
I always wear latex gloves and then keep my short dumping hose in a covered Rubbermaid container.
 I spray it with Lysol before putting it away.
 I throw the gloves away after each time I use them.
 I for one would not touch the sewer cover or anything around the dump station without them.

Then when I am done and away I use Germex on my hands.

 It has worked for me for the past twenty years, so I'll stick with that

 Like someone mentioned above, we are more concerned about the fresh water, and only use bottled water for drinking

Jack L

Bobmws

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2017, 07:27:36 AM »
Having retired from a career in Water Reclamation (wastewater treatment) I can assure you that you are over thinking the situation. Industry studies have shown that odors and most incidental contacts do not transfer illness.
While not having the RV experience of others here, I have yet to come across a dump station without a rinse hose, and folks I've met there have always cleaned up any mess or spills. Maybe I've been lucky, but most RV'ers are pretty responsible.
So disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, maybe a spray bottle with bleach solution, you'll be fine. Maybe a disposable breathing mask, rubber farm boots you can store with your hoses.
Can't hurt and if it makes you feel better, go for it and enjoy your camping trip.
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catblaster

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2017, 07:42:04 AM »
  If it was that bad there would not be a plumber left alive today. I worked in it for 30years before inspecting so I should have been dead years ago........no wait...maybe I'm not a good example of that.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2017, 08:00:51 AM »
This is a supremely difficult topic for a germaphobe.  If you are paranoid about germs, any little glitch in your well-being will be attributed to some recent "exposure" to germs. Got the sniffles? It was probably that school kid you encountered in the store yesterday. Stomach a little uneasy? Yee-gawds - the water at the restaurant was contaminated! Probably no evidence offered here will change anyone's opinions.

Germs are everywhere, so get used to it. Fortunately, our bodies are supremely well-equipped to deal with them, and the more exposure it gets, the more effective it becomes. Give your bod some help by washing your hands, storing the waste water equipment properly, etc., but try not to obsess about it. You can't escape germs - they are in the air everywhere and on every surface. Many of them are beneficial and normally present in your body anyway. Looking yucky or having an obnoxious odor doesn't make it any more or less dangerous to you either. Few of the really dangerous germs are detectable by any human senses. Sadly, that fact probably increases the terror of a germaphobe rather than reassuring him in any way.

So what to do? Whatever makes you more comfortable. If you want to wear gloves, boots and a hazmat suit, go ahead. The rest of us will probably chuckle about it, but you should do what you gotta do.
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John From Detroit

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2017, 08:13:33 AM »
When it comes to "Dump station Hygeine" I'm ... Well let's say I'm a high risk dumper.

Many wear gloves (Exam gloves are good) and follow proper HazMat procedure, which I know, for removal of same... They wash (That is the real reason for the outside "Shower" by the way" and/or sanitize (I do, in some cases, wash with bleach, anything from dilute to concentrated).

Never actually touch anything.. Following proper HazMat procedure (As I already said)

I'm not like that, I only follow haz-mat procedure if there is a "Spill" rest of the time I trust my iummune system.


In 11 years, about 9 of 'em full time.. Total medical problems = ZERO
*(Total mechanical problems is higher, but see "Unless there is a spill" those happen)

But total medical issues (Illness) Zero.

And in around 15 years of crusing RV forums.. I've not ever heard of one either.
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markbarendt

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2017, 08:18:37 AM »
First no need for apologies. It is important to keep things in perspective though. I hesitate a bit to say this to a germaphobe but human interaction of any type provides the possibility for transfer.

I believe well kept Kitchens in general, personal or commercial, are much more dangerous than dump stations. That's meant only as a reference point on a relative scale.

Here's a video, the process is normally easy and clean.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/dW9pou0S2d4

wheyin

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2017, 10:00:40 AM »
Hello 191124x7,

     Welcome to the forum, coming from the prospective of a retired registered nurse I understand your dilemma in regards to the dump station and the black water tank.  Certainly the exposure to germs at and around the dumpsite are understandable, everything that is part of the site is to be considered contaminated, as a matter of course...this includes the ground, any fittings, hoses, from your camper and the same for any part of the dump site.  Therefore, disposable gloves are a must with hand sanitizer cleansing post dumping ritual, we use the sanitizing wipes.  Most RV's will have you stow the portable dump hose inside the rear bumper, after thoroughly rinsing at dump site with rinse hose provided at site for this purpose...some RV;s actually have a flush kit type entry that you can flush the black tank each time...however, this only flushes the tank and does not sanitize it.  The black tanks, and gray tanks are sealed and separated from the fresh water tank, but like others here we stick to bottled water to drink or cook with, as even the fresh water tank has potential for normal parasitic and germ contamination, despite cleaning tanks as recommended.   So, the hose for emptying all tanks should be rinsed and stored separately, we also store our hose from the RV to dumping opening for full hook up site in a separate container that is completely, tightly sealed, for stowing under RV belly always handled with latex gloves.  All this being said, the good news is many germs can not survive outside their preferred environment, and therefore are destroyed by sunlight, cold, etc.  If you are concerned about shoes and carrying potential germs into driving vehicle then wear shoe covers, or galoshes or other shoes just for dumping activity and change shoes, placing the designated dirty shoes in a sealed container just for this use.  There is no way around a certain amount of exposure, inhaled...however the numbe4r of germs that survive to be inhaled is minimal at best...and if this is a concern you can at drugstores buy nose/mouth masks, paper like that are rated for micro exposure of inhaled substances...looks like what you might see a surgeon/nurse pull over nose and mouth.  If you are concerned about potential splash back on eyes, wear goggles.  My husband and I have only used gloves and sanitizer wipes and have never had a problem to date, though you have to determine what your comfort level is and take precautions you can live with and are comfortable with, in your case nothing is excessive it is all about what provides you with reassurance. We ourselves do not fill our fresh water tanks at or near a dump station even though there is a separate area for fresh water fill up at most of these sites with clearly designated signage indicating fresh/clean water fill up available, and additional signage warning folks not to contaminate this area hookups for any use relating to trailer waste water dumping.....cross contamination is a concern because not everyone will follow the rule or understand why the rule exists, plus any fresh water filling from other sites hoses are keep clean as possible and hook up ends cleaned each time with sanitizer, despite the fact we only drink bottled water....so yes, we have our phobias, too.  Hope this helps..take care.

garyb1st

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2017, 01:43:28 PM »
I think it's more likely you'll get sick worrying about stuff like this.  It's really pretty simple.  Just use caution.  If I have an open cut on my hands, I'll wear gloves when dealing with the waste tank.  Otherwise, I just wash my hands when I'm done. 
Gary B1st

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Rene T

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2017, 03:18:09 PM »
I think it's more likely you'll get sick worrying about stuff like this.  It's really pretty simple.  Just use caution.  If I have an open cut on my hands, I'll wear gloves when dealing with the waste tank.  Otherwise, I just wash my hands when I'm done.

I don't know why I'm not dead yet.  I remember years ago I had a guy come over to pump out my septic tank. He had the hose going into the tank and while it was pumping, he sat down on the ground and ate a sandwich. He's still doing it today, pumping that is. It didn't kill him.  I agree with garyb1st. Don't overthink this and just use the precautions which you're comfortable with. If that means no protection at all, so be it.
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denmarc

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2017, 03:51:07 PM »
So what to do? Whatever makes you more comfortable. If you want to wear gloves, boots and a hazmat suit, go ahead. The rest of us will probably chuckle about it, but you should do what you gotta do.

Bingo. Many of us drank from the garden hose after stomping through the farm. We're still around and our kids don't have three arms and a flesh eating disease. Think about it...did the the last guy who left the public rest room wash his hands before you touched the door handle?
Accidents do happen at the dump station. Clean up is not always what you might expect. You have to deal with that.
I've never read of any member getting sick. Just use common sense. But don't be scared to tackle what you have to do.

The latex/vinyl gloves by the box are really cheap at Walgreens. Get some and you will be fine.

And if I may quote another member, "If you don't know the answer, it's not a dumb question". No need to apologize.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2017, 04:55:47 PM by denmarc »
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ArdraF

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2017, 04:20:13 PM »
Happy New Year and welcome to the RV Forum.  Yes, I think you are overthinking tank dumping - big time!  We've been RVing for 35+ years and have never encountered anything to fear.  We've never been sickened by anything to do with dumping.

Jerry tried gloves once and now just washes his hands well after dumping.  He always works with the fresh water and its appropriate hoses first.  He also washes the fresh water spigot before attaching our fresh water hose.  Fresh water hoses and fittings are kept in one container.

After filling the fresh water tank he works on dumping the tanks, black first, then a "rinse" with the gray water and flushing if possible.  He has a good supply of Lysol spray which he uses liberally on the hoses and fittings.  Dump hoses also have their own container and never the twain shall meet!  We keep our hoses in OPEN containers because sealing germs into a closed container might make the germs proliferate, especially during the summer when it's hot.  Air usually is their enemy.

RVers usually are pretty careful when using the dump station, but we occasionally rinse it down before using if the previous person didn't clean up after him/herself.

So try to relax and just take normal precautions.  We all did things when we were kids that didn't kill us and neither will this!

ArdraF



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JudyJB

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2017, 06:56:27 PM »
I have never gotten sick in over four years of full-timing, and I have a weakened immune system.  And I wash my hands afterward, but don't wear gloves.

If you are worried about your shoes, you can keep a pair just for walking around dump stations.  (Somehow I always get my shoes wet when hooking up or unhooking and rinsing my sewer hose, but it is wet from clean water.)  I don't like to wear shoes inside my motorhome, so I wear one pair when I am driving and dumping tanks.  When I go into the RV from the cab, I take my shoes off and leave them there.  Then when I go out the side door, I have a separate pair there.
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prnebs

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2017, 12:01:41 AM »
Hubby does use gloves and washes hands plus sanitizer. Our son got a degree in microbiology and daughter in law is a registered nurse and have 2 young kids.  They are very cautious at home as well as in public.  I was interested in how he would handle dumping, and kinda expecting the haz-mat suit as mentioned above.  His process was the same as everyone elses, no special protection.  The only thing I think I'd like to have Hubby do is use disposable booties.  You should do what makes you comfortable.  Welcome to the forum!
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scottydl

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2017, 03:56:51 PM »
Nothing like a good black tank discussion to bring out the input!  :D  We talk about that stuff quite often here, obviously.  I agree with what everyone has said.  I generally use latex gloves & keep a box of them in the RV's storage compartment, but really just because it "seems like a good idea at the time" and I'm not sure I've ever really needed that layer of protection.  I use the dump station's NON-potable water supply hose (the water you do not drink) to thoroughly rinse my dump hose and the ground around the dump station.  Antibacterial hand gel is the next step after dumping, since we often don't have a handwashing option immediately available (unless I left water in the RV's fresh water tank to use).

I'm told you can catch stomach viruses just from being close to a person's vomit and/or diarrhea...

I'm not sure if you have little kids around, but (without being too graphic) I've been exposed to a lot of vomit and diarrhea over the years!  It has rarely affected me, in a medical/viral kind of way.  Sure sometimes the entire family ends up eventually "catching" a bad stomach bug that is moving from one person to the next, but that's been pretty rare over the years.  Being exposed to any meaningful degree at an RV dump station seems like it would be even less likely.

Many of us drank from the garden hose after stomping through the farm. We're still around and our kids don't have three arms and a flesh eating disease.

So true!  I've heard from some medical personnel (and happen to agree) that we attempt to be SO anti-germ in everything we do these days, that our bodies barely have a chance to build up any natural resistance to common germs around our daily environments.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2017, 04:17:03 PM »
I stepped in two pools of cat puke this morning in the kitchen at 4am. Got a rag and mopped it up without gloves or washing my hands afterward. After the life I have lived a little bit of cat vomit isn't going to hurt me. Now grits is a different story, that gave me brain damage. :o
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kdbgoat

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2017, 05:09:38 PM »
Find a submarine sailor and ask what a "Golden Flapper Award" is.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant


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191124x7

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2017, 05:11:09 PM »
Thank you so much for all these great replies!  When this site says, "The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing" they are not exaggerating!

I really appreciate all the kind help here, and hope some day I can contribute as well!

191124x7

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2017, 05:16:49 PM »
Find a submarine sailor and ask what a "Golden Flapper Award" is.

Haha! Great read! http://www.usscasimirpulaski.com/seastories.htm

I need to avoid any flapper awards going forward for sure!

SeilerBird

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Re: Ever become sick from black water?
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2017, 05:26:16 PM »
Thank you so much for all these great replies!  When this site says, "The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing" they are not exaggerating!

I really appreciate all the kind help here, and hope some day I can contribute as well!
You already are contributing. If it wasn't for people asking questions we would just be a bunch of old men telling lies all day long.  ;D
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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