Scientists shine laser on what you get when you flush


There is more to be afraid than sitting in a public bathroom. It can release a host of dangerous airborne gunk.

Laser lights were used by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder to record what bubbles up when you flush your commercial toilet.

The study illuminated that when flushed, public toilets spew airborne particles at speeds of up to 6 feet per second. 

Researchers turned on lasers, shut off the lights and then flushed a toilet commercially without a lid in eerie green-lit videos. The surge of water, which looked like an eruption volcano, spewed human waste high up into the air. This could cause you to get sick.

“If it’s something you can’t see, it’s easy to pretend it doesn’t exist,” said the study’s co-author John Crimaldi, an engineer at the university, in a Statement. “But once you see these videos, you’re never going to think about a toilet flush the same way again.”

The researchers stated that their research will aid in spreading diseases associated with human waste such as noroviruses (E.coli), C. difficile and other potentially deadly infections.

According to the study, pathogens that are flushed can get into the lungs of those who use the toilet.

Researchers said that laser-lit video footage showed particles reaching the ceiling and spreading throughout the room.

The study noted that designers of public restrooms could combat spreading disease by installing increased ventilation systems and equipping toilets with disinfectant measures. Scientists believe that designers could track the effectiveness and efficiency of new measures using laser technology.

“Being able to see this invisible plume is a game-changer,” Crimaldi said. “None of those improvements can be done effectively without knowing how the aerosol plume develops and how it’s moving.”


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