The Royal Flush

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It might be advisable to close the toilet lid when flushing, according to a new study on public hygiene.

Scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder found that a toilet flush can blast out a flurry of tiny water droplets invisible to the naked eye, Science Alert reported.

For their experiment, they used two green lasers and cameras to closely observe what happens when a toilet is flushed. Videos showed that the droplets would reach a height of nearly five feet and travel at speeds beyond 6.6 feet per second.

While larger droplets dropped quickly, it was the smaller ones – known as aerosols – that lingered in the air for a while.

The team noted that the experiment only used water, adding that the toilet bowl was not surrounded by stalls or people.

They added that knowledge about toilets potentially spewing aerosols is not exactly new but their findings centered on the question of how diseases might spread in bathrooms – both at home and in public.

Aerosols are known to carry pathogens but past studies haven’t exactly determined how and where these disease-laden particles may travel.

Lead author John Crimaldi said he hopes the findings will prompt more research and new methods to prevent dangerous viruses and microbes from spreading in public restrooms, even as most of the western world has removed toilet seats from public restrooms.

“The goal of the toilet is to effectively remove waste from the bowl but it’s also doing the opposite, which is spraying a lot of contents upwards,” he said.

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