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posted by janrinok on Sunday February 04, @10:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the ass-technica-website! dept.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2024/01/study-closing-toilet-lid-while-flushing-doesnt-stop-spread-of-airborne-bacteria/

"If it's something you can't see, it's easy to pretend it doesn't exist," study co-author John Crimaldi said at the time. They found that the ejected airborne particles could travel up to 6.6 feet per second, reaching heights of 4.9 feet above the toilet within 8 seconds. And if those particles were smaller (less than 5 microns), they could hang around in that air for over a minute.

More relevant to this latest paper, it has been suggested that closing the lid before flushing could substantially reduce the airborne spread of contaminants. For example, in 2019, researchers at University College Cork deployed bioaerosol sensors in a shared lavatory for a week to monitor the number and size of contaminant particles. They concluded that flushing with the toilet lid down reduced airborne droplets between 30 and 60 percent. But this scenario also increased the diameter of the droplets and bacteria concentration. Leaving the lid down also means the airborne microdroplets are still detectable 16 minutes after flushing, 11 minutes longer than if one flushed with the lid up.

[...] Perhaps the least surprising finding is that rigorous cleaning with a toilet bowl brush and Lysol reduced the contamination by 99.99 percent compared to cleaning with just a brush. Therefore, "The most effective strategy for reducing restroom cross-contamination associated with toilet flushing include the addition of a disinfectant to the toilet bowl before flushing and the use of disinfectant/detergent dispensers in the toilet tank," the authors concluded. They also recommend regularly disinfecting all restroom surfaces after flushing or cleaning with a toilet brush in health care facilities—which often have a lot of immunocompromised people—and if someone in your house has an active infection like norovirus.

Got it. Pardon us while we scrub our toilet bowls with Lysol and stock up on toilet tank disinfectant dispensers.

American Journal of Infection Control, 2024. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajic.2023.11.020 (About DOIs).


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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by drussell on Sunday February 04, @11:35PM (3 children)

    by drussell (2678) on Sunday February 04, @11:35PM (#1343039) Journal

    I've seen this same type of research repeatedly over the past few decades, sometimes saying it basically doesn't matter, other times saying it's slightly better to flush lid-down, but essentially always coming to the same major conclusion...

    Flushing your gross, dirty toilet, lid down or lid up, spews all sorts of disgusting detritus and bacteria all around the room with every flush. ICK! Yucky!!

    Clean your toilet!

    (As an aside, I wish they still made the original 2000 Flushes that came in the plastic "sour-cream-like" container that you opened a hole in the top of the container, not those newfangled "pucks." That stuff was THE BEST! It could even clean those un-scrubbable waterline rings on old, etched porcelain bowls with the application of one container of the stuff. Ahh, but yet again, I digress...)

    • (Score: 2) by drussell on Sunday February 04, @11:38PM (2 children)

      by drussell (2678) on Sunday February 04, @11:38PM (#1343040) Journal

      I meant to say "slightly better with the lid-down or lid-up" ...

      Although the "linger" factor always seems to be worse with "lid-down" in these studies...

      Again, clean your toilet.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @06:22AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @06:22AM (#1343058)
        If it's my toilet I don't care. I'm not immunocompromised and they're mostly my germs or similar anyway.

        It's public toilets you should be careful of (especially hospitals - many of which are reservoirs of antibiotic+disinfectant resistant pathogens). Many toilets are badly designed from the point of using them hygienically.

        Think about how you are going to poop, properly clean yourself, open the toilet doors and get out without contaminating yourself and other stuff.

        And then think about what most others are likely to do instead.

        There are not many public toilets where you can EASILY poop, wash your butt, dry your butt, wash your hands, open the door, wash your hands again and finally leave without recontamination/contaminating. The toilets for the handicapped are the ones that are more likely to allow you to do this.

        If you're merely wiping your butt with toilet paper and not washing and cleaning properly and then touching the doors etc, then that's filthy, and way beyond "microdroplets"...
        • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @03:42PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @03:42PM (#1343139)

          There are not many public toilets where you can EASILY poop, wash your butt, dry your butt, wash your hands, open the door, wash your hands again and finally leave without recontamination/contaminating. The toilets for the handicapped are the ones that are more likely to allow you to do this.
          (emphasis added)

          Which magical land do you live in where there are bidets in public restrooms? I've done some travelling, and most places I've been don't have anything of the sort. If you want to wash your butt before getting home (let alone out of the toilet stall) you're bringing your own water source. I have Muslim friends who do just that, because facilities to enable butt-washing in the stall aren't available.

          Also, handwash in the toilet stall? That sounds like bring-your-own disinfectant wipes to me; again, no handwash sink in toilet stalls anywhere I can recall. Closest I can imagine would be a "family bathroom" sort of arrangement where it's a single-person (or parent-and-stroller) room with a single door to the outside and no separation between toilet and sink.

          I've taken to assuming that the door latch on a toilet stall is guaranteed to be contaminated, doing my best not to add too much extra on the way out, and then washing thoroughly at the sink (minimizing contact on the faucet handles which are also guaranteed contaminated).

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Runaway1956 on Monday February 05, @01:25AM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 05, @01:25AM (#1343045) Journal

    High school football star went by the name of "Wheee!" He flushed with the lid up, with his feet in the toilet. I never asked for too many details, hopefully he allowed the logs to disappear before putting his feet in. I hadn't thought of that boy in years . . .

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @02:48AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @02:48AM (#1343049)

    She tried one of these, "toilet tank disinfectant dispensers" and within a few months the rubber flapper flush-valve was a wrinkled, leaky mess. Fist guess, the rubber was eaten into by the chlorine. No more stuff in the tank...and the flapper lasts for many years again, just like it used to.

    Since it is a Kohler toilet (not my choice, came with the house), of course the replacement was several times more expensive than one of the generic flappers.

    In terms of getting rid of aerosols, has anyone looked at how fast an exhaust fan can clear the air? Seems to me it takes a few minutes, not too long.

  • (Score: 1) by kboodu on Monday February 05, @06:10AM (3 children)

    by kboodu (38701) on Monday February 05, @06:10AM (#1343055)

    Whether you flush with the lid up or down, you can use a lit candle to help clear the air of any offensive odors.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday February 05, @01:32PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday February 05, @01:32PM (#1343116)

      Chemical warfare is the way to go. Our well water has no chlorine or other anti-microbials, so the little chlorine tablets in the toilet tank do the trick when needed.

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
      • (Score: 2) by drussell on Monday February 05, @07:47PM (1 child)

        by drussell (2678) on Monday February 05, @07:47PM (#1343197) Journal

        I'm a little wary of using excessive chlorine here, be it laundry bleach or something like toilet tablets, than absolutely necessary since I've got a septic system out here and you really don't want to kill much of the "good stuff" that breaks down the effluent in the septic tank before it heads out to the leach field..

        I'm currently only one person on a 900 gallon tank, but avoiding excessive chlorine is generally considered a good thing...

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Monday February 05, @08:39PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday February 05, @08:39PM (#1343205)

          Yeah, that's part of why I get the smallest tablets they make and use one per 8-12 weeks, usually.

          Local conditions vary, chlorine is bad juju that's why it works so well.

          --
          🌻🌻 [google.com]
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Se5a on Monday February 05, @07:12AM (2 children)

    by Se5a (20629) on Monday February 05, @07:12AM (#1343063)

    Always putting the lid down wins you the seat down argument if you've got woman in the house.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @09:54AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @09:54AM (#1343083)

      Never could figure that one out.

      If the seat is down, if your man dribbles, he likely contaminates the seat with puddles of pee.

      And as far as the lid, I keep it up so I can verify the flush was completed successfully. I don't like lifting a lid only to discover the previous flush wasn't successful, or worse, clogged and the toilet is full to the brim.

      I hate to be forced to press the hand basin into emergency use because Mother Nature is preparing to enforce Her Ultimatum.

      Ewww!

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday February 05, @04:12PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 05, @04:12PM (#1343147) Journal

        If the seat is down, if your man dribbles, he likely contaminates the seat with puddles of pee.

        Unless, of course, he lifts the seat first, then it doesn't happen. Where it fails hard is with public restrooms where some men really will dribble all over the seat rather than take the trivial effort to lift the seat.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Mojibake Tengu on Monday February 05, @08:03AM (3 children)

    by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Monday February 05, @08:03AM (#1343070) Journal

    This immunology problem ceases to exist when you lay flat in a trench, with your comrades' intestinal contents and random decomposing body parts of previous group scattered all around.

    --
    Respect Authorities. Know your social status. Woke responsibly.
    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @10:22AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @10:22AM (#1343085)

      Well, that got dark quickly.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Mojibake Tengu on Monday February 05, @12:55PM (1 child)

        by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Monday February 05, @12:55PM (#1343110) Journal

        I am Realist. Not sorry about that.

        --
        Respect Authorities. Know your social status. Woke responsibly.
        • (Score: 3, Funny) by khallow on Monday February 05, @04:15PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 05, @04:15PM (#1343149) Journal
          I do wonder how a sarcastic factoid about trench warfare ended up in a story about toilets? Is it looking for a home?
  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday February 05, @11:07PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 05, @11:07PM (#1343233) Journal

    If you always flush with the lid up or down, then eventually a connected counter somewhere in the cloud will have an integer overflow which will require a mop.

    --
    The lower I set my standards the more accomplishments I have.
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