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I've heard claims of airborne poop particles that fly into the air everytime one flushes a toilet. Here's some examples:

  • HERE someone states that flushing the toilet "aerosolizes" water/poop into the air
  • HERE is another article referencing such high flying particles
  • HERE is a WebMD article featuring the same

The central quote from the last two is from Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona in Tucson:

Polluted water vapor erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl and it can take several hours for these particles to finally settle — not to mention where.

Similarly, I've heard that hand dryers spew these particles out onto one's hands.

  • HERE is an example of a claim like that
  • HERE is a short forum discussion about the same

True? Worrisome? Also, I'd love any references as to the method of making the particles airborne if they do occur. I had the understanding that to aerosolize, one needed to overcome the cohesive forces of the material -- hence forcing them apart into small particles via strong jets of air vs. the nominal droplet size of the liquid.

I'm skeptical that a toilets have the power necessary to aerosolize, except for perhaps the "jet-powered" public toilets.

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Be aware that there are many different toilet designs, and the popular designs in North America (e.g. siphoning) are not used everywhere (see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flush_toilet). Non-siphoning designs appear to have more forceful water-splashing. –  Oddthinking Jun 7 '11 at 2:31
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If you can smell it, then this means that chemicals from the poop are reaching your nose. They have to get there somehow... –  Lagerbaer Jun 7 '11 at 4:39
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@lagerbaer scientifically one must presuppose that if it can be smelt, it has indeed been dealt. –  Monkey Tuesday Jun 7 '11 at 5:27
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"There's poo everywhere. What are we gonna do!?" - Bacteria are normal. Get over it. :-) –  Lennart Regebro Jun 7 '11 at 6:07
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@Lagerbaer: Chemicals from it are reaching your nose, but that doesn't imply anything about bacteria or particulate matter. It's a bit like equating smelling food and eating it. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 26 '11 at 12:56

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Mythbuster Episode 11 of 2004 Series showed that fecal matter did seem to get everywhere, and the explanation appeared to be through aerosol, or at least flung out of the toilet somehow.

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Great link -- that episode does it. Just always wondered if it was true! –  Hendy Jun 7 '11 at 16:53
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The link to the video is gone, but I assume it is this one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  StasM Nov 20 '13 at 0:40
    
Mythbusters a credible source, that is new :) –  Andra May 17 at 12:04

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