High tech lasers measure reach of ‘aerosol plumes’ from flushed toilets and you’ll never leave the lid open again

Fox News host Laura Ingraham was joined by Dr. Marc Siegel on Monday to present some realities about bathroom cleanliness courtesy of “poop and lasers.”

(Video: Fox News)

No matter how recently or thoroughly sanitized a restroom may be, a new University of Colorado Boulder study demonstrated just how easily viruses and bacteria can spread, specifically where lidless, industrial toilets are concerned.

As summarized during “The Ingraham Angle,” high-powered lasers were used “to check out how far and wide water droplets fly after you flush the toilet.”

Airing a snippet of video provided by the researchers, viewers could see the green light cast by the laser positioned on the toilet side-by-side with an ordinary perspective of a toilet. With the laser, a spray of droplets described as an “aerosol plume” could be seen emanating from the flushed receptacle.

“Ok,” Ingraham reacted, “that’s gross.”

As she brought in Siegel to discuss, the host explained, “Those droplets, or aerosol plumes, can spread both fecal particles and contagious diseases, and some say, COVID,” and that those plumes could “go up to five feet in the air.”

With many commercial restrooms lacking lids to their toilets and the cleaning decisions being left out of the control of the users, the Fox News medical contributor offered little in the way of comfort when his suggestion to combat the spread of particles included, “First of all, you use disinfectant water. Second thing, how about closing the lid before you flush the toilet?”

Siegel pointed out there were as many as 3.2 million bacteria per inch in toilet water containing pathogens like noroviruses and E. coli and noted, “There’s flu, there’s COVID, and no, no mask is going to help you in that situation.”

“I think this is a reminder that all of this obsession on COVID…this is a basic problem that we face in our daily lives that we can get pretty sick from this,” the doctor stated.

Meanwhile, engineer John Crimaldi who authored the study spoke with CNET to explain the findings and how it had been expected that “aerosol particles would just sort of float up, but they came out like a rocket.”

Particle speeds were measured as fast as 6.6 feet per second and the engineer said, “Commercial toilets emit energetic and rapidly spreading aerosol plumes.”

“If it’s something you can’t see, it’s easy to pretend it doesn’t exist,” he continued. “But once you see these videos, you’re never going to think about a toilet flush the same way again.”

The toilets weren’t the only concern for spreading germs as a video was later played detailing how public hand dryers also contributed to the problem. And for those who considered this to be strictly a worry for public restrooms, Siegel added that home restrooms had their own sticking points when it came to pathogens collecting, and said, “Your toothbrush may be the dirtiest thing of all. Wash that with soap, please.”


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