It wasn't until the late 19th century that scientists began understanding germs. We now know that many germs that carry infectious diseases can be easily preventable through proper sanitation and personal hygiene. So we all teach our kids to wash their hands, bring hand sanitizers in classrooms, cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of trash properly, and have uncontaminated drinking water. Unbeknownst to us, however, unsanitary habits are being practiced multiple times every day: flushing the toilet without closing the lid spreads germs everywhere.

19th century scientist

That's right, folks. It's no longer cool to watch the brown go down according to a study published by the American Journal of Infectious Control. Fecal matter and vomit, when agitated, produce "toilet plume" aerosols that can carry potentially harmful bacteria especially if the person using the bathroom is sick.

The study was conducted by scrutinizing several previous studies regarding toilet plume aerosolization to try to gather a comprehensive conclusion as to the harm it can cause. The scientists researched studies based on amount of fecal matter produced, the strength of the flush, sanitization of the toilet seat before flushing, and multiple flushes among other variables.

public restroom

What they uncovered is that flushing with the lid open releases potentially harmful pathogens into the air. It can continue through multiple flushes and has the risk of exposing subsequent users. They even found that some toilet plume stays in the air longer than others increasing the exposure time.

What they did not conclude are any direct correlations between exposure to toilet plume and infectious diseases. That is, just because a person who has the flu vomits then flushes with the lid open does not mean that the subsequent bathroom visitor is guaranteed to contract the virus.

What they can positively conclude is that flushing the toilet with the lid open causes microorganisms to enter the air - the risks involved have yet to be founded.

cleaning toilet

So, to all of those curious onlookers or inattentive toilet flushers, do yourself and your fellow man a favor and close the toilet lid. And light a match.

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