Put a lid on it! New study on toilet bacteria

LEEDS, ENGLAND; December 29, 2011

According to past studies, bacteria does get into the air when a toilet is flushed with the lid up. However, there's been a debate over how much bacteria there is, how far it spreads, and whether it really poses a disease risk.

An episode of the popular show "Mythbusters" said it probably didn't pose a hazard.

Microbiologists at the Leeds General Infirmary in Britain would argue with that.

They sampled air over & around toilets after flushing, also measuring the amount of splashing during flushes of two different toilet types common in hospitals.

Using samples of the dangerous C. difficule intestinal bacteria, they found that "aerosolization," as it's called, can lead to real environmental contamination.

The C. diff was found up to 10 inches above the toilet. The highest bacteria levels were right after the flushes, but there was still contamination 90 minutes after the flush.

That airborne bacteria can settle on virtually any surface, from sink to towels and toothbrushes hanging out. Some say the bacterial bloom gives a new meaning to the term "potty mouth."

This study concludes lidless toilets or those flushed with the lid up, DO pose a health hazard, especially when someone in the house is sick.

C. diff infections and death have been on the rise, especially among the elderly and those in hospitals. The Leeds scientists wonder if toilets could be one cause.

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