Scientists prove how shockingly far droplets from your toilet can spread if you flush without keeping the lid on

Image credits: Crimaldi

After finishing our ‘businesses’, not many made it a habit to put down the toilet lid before flushing, especially in public toilets where they have been used countless times. Some may even consider it an inconvenience to keep closing the lid, only to put it up again on our next use.

However as it turns out, researchers have proven for a fact that closing the lid when flushing your toilet is more important than you realise, especially where cleanliness is concerned.

Researchers explain how flushing without the toilet lid on causes harmful transmission of germs

Flushing releases aerosol that consists of water droplets that are invisible to the naked eye. Image credits: John Crimaldi

According to Insider, a team of scientists published a study and a convincing result video showing how flushing can eject tiny water droplets out of the bowl. Although multiple studies have been carried out on this related topic and scientists have known that each flush spews water vapours out into the air, this rather alarming clip may be some of the best pieces of visual evidence that adds credence to established research. Watch the documented clip here:

In the video, a massive amount of tiny droplets could be seen shooting in the air as the team used lasers to highlight the invisible-to-the-naked-eye vapours. The cloud of vibrant green droplets, also known as aerosols then continued to take off to a further distance.

“The very first time we did it, our jaws just dropped,” John Crimaldi, a study author and engineering professor at the University of Colorado, told Insider.

He said his team “had no idea and no reason to expect” the plumes would go as high and as far as they did.

What may lie in the aerosols?

It may be possible that these plumes carry harmful microbes. Image credits: John Crimaldi

According to Joshua Santarpia, a microbiologist from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the jet may possibly ferry microbes. Harmful microbes derived from infectious diseases could easily become a detriment to health.

The experiment was carried out without any solids within the bowl, therefore the presence of fecal matter and toilet paper could alter the plume dynamics. There might be more concerns from the aerosols that were emitted from flushing toilet waste as fecal matter and vomit are breeding grounds for high pathogen concentrations such as Shigella, Salmonella and even parasites.

However, scientists are yet to prove that these toilet plumes are a direct factor in some outbreaks as there was no definitive evidence that indicated so.

“It is actually incredibly difficult to demonstrate the mode of transmission, much less the source, in most cases,” said Santarpia.

Put a lid on it

Image credits: Motor City Plumber

In the meantime, there is a way to protect yourself from these possible harmful aerosols, which is to close the toilet lid. Santarpia told Insider that putting down a toilet lid can help minimise the spread of the droplets. It would also limit the spread of odours in the bathroom.

Furthermore, wearing a mask is also advisable, especially in public bathrooms.

“Public bathrooms can be confined spaces with highly variable air change rates, so masking protects against human-to-human aerosol transmission, which is more likely in a small, poorly ventilated room, as well as contact with any potentially infectious aerosols from toilet flushing,” he said.

So be sure to do yourself and others using the toilet after you a favour, and put the lid down when you flush!

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Also read: Ministry of Education claims students skip meals to avoid using filthy school toilets, vows to implement changes

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