Do you flush with the lid up?  You won’t do that again after you see this: ScienceAlert

Do you flush with the lid up? You won’t do that again after you see this: ScienceAlert

Do you flush with the lid up? You won’t do that again after you see this: ScienceAlert

Scientists used a combination of green lasers and cameras to shed light on the effect a toilet flush has on the environment – and we doubt you’ll ever leave the lid up while flushing after seeing the results.

The video clip created by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in the US, shows a flurry of tiny water droplets, invisible to the naked eye, flying up from the toilet bowl after flushing. It’s kind of super gross, considering what could be floating in those tiny droplets.

“People knew toilets emit aerosols, but they haven’t been able to see them,” says civil and environmental engineer John Criminaldifrom the University of Colorado Boulder.

“We’re showing that this thing is a much more energetic and fast-spreading plume than even the people who knew about it understood.”

As the researchers themselves admit, there’s an “ick factor” here — amplified by the eerie green glow of the laser light — but there’s also an important message about bathroom hygiene, both in private homes and in public restrooms that are often lidless.

Criminaldi and his fellow researchers like to emphasize that they are not epidemiologists, and so there are no precise calculations here in terms of the potential for disease spread. However, their rendering provides a graphical element other studies which do attempt to estimate the properties of bacteria-laden aerosols.

While previous studies have clearly established that particles can escape from the toilet bowl during flushing, there is still a lot of uncertainty about how these particles move and where they can end up.

Two lasers were used: one that shone continuously from above on the toilet to illuminate the scene, and one that sent rapid pulses of light across the top of the toilet bowl to emphasize the movement of particles. At the same time, high-resolution images were captured with cameras.

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The researchers showed that after a flush, droplets reached heights of up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet), with velocities of more than two meters (6.6 feet) per second in some places. Larger droplets settle faster on services, while smaller ones can remain suspended in the air for several minutes, the researchers showed.

“We expected these aerosol particles to just float up, but they came out like a rocket,” says Criminaldi.

“The purpose of the toilet is to effectively remove waste from the bowl, but it also does the opposite, which is to squirt a lot of contents up.”

There was nothing in the toilet bowl except water during the experiment. There was also no cubicle around the toilet and no people walking around like in a public toilet. In real life, all of these variables would affect the droplets’ travel.

But even in this rather man-made environment, there’s clearly plenty of room for water — and anything it happens to be carrying — to get out of the toilet bowl, where it could end up sticking to surfaces and clothing.

The researchers believe that more needs to be done to reduce the risk of pathogens Escherichia coli, Clostridium difficile, norovirusesand adenoviruses distribution in public toilets, with improved approaches to design, ventilation and disinfection all options.

For these improvements to work effectively, it’s critical to know where the water is going, which this study shows more dramatically than ever before — and in a way we’ll never forget.

“If it’s something you can’t see, it’s easy to pretend it doesn’t exist,” says Criminaldi. “But once you see these videos, you’ll never think about flushing a toilet the same way again.”

“By creating dramatic visual images of this process, our study can play an important role in public health messages.”

The research has been published in Scientific Reports.



#flush #lid #wont #ScienceAlert

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