Flushing Lidless Toilets

A new study performed at the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, shows what happens when a lidless toilet is flushed.

At the University of Colorado, Boulder, engineers used lasers and cameras to observe the tiny water droplets that fly into the air when we flush our toilets.

Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, published the first study ever to visualize what happens to aerosols when a toilet is flushed. By measuring the speed and spread of tiny water droplets with cameras and lasers.

Professor John Crimaldi, Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO said “there’s just the incredibly energetic jet of aerosol particles that shoots out of the toilets at speeds of 1 to 2 meters per seconds. So if there are pathogens present in those particles, then it’s an exposure risk for people that are using the toilet.”

Hopefully the scientific community can use this information to make changes to the ventilation or disinfection that reduce the exposure risk. Generally, aerosols are known to transmit both respiratory diseases and and intestinal diseases. So if all of those pathogens, Covid, and many other pathogens, people know that those can be present in human waste. What is less understood is what is the actual transmission risk of getting a disease from the exposure to those particles.

How can I lower my exposure to health risks when flushing a lidless toilet?

  • When lidless toilets flush, minimize your time you spent in closed spaces.
  • Mask up at public restrooms.

Those two approaches are the most effective strategies at this point.

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