Two words: Toilet plume.
Typically discussions about bathroom behavior are considered too crass to bring up. But, there’s one thing everyone’s doing that simply must be addressed: Leaving the toilet lid up.
A whopping 60 percent of people don’t put the toilet lid down after they conduct their business in the loo. And that rather gross behavior could be causing a whole host of disgusting issues.
As Business Insider so delicately explained, when you don’t put the lid down and flush it causes what is known as a “toilet plume.” And that phenomenon is just as icky as it sounds.
You see, a study dating way back to 1975 found that when a person flushes the toilet tiny microbes of whatever was left inside can go shooting into the air and land on everything from the toilet itself, to the counter, sink, mirror, and (eek!) your toothbrush.
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“Research suggests that this toilet plume could play an important role in the transmission of infectious diseases for which the pathogen is shed in feces or vomit,” a 2013 follow-up study published by the American Journal of Infection Control additionally explained. “The possible role of toilet plume in airborne transmission of norovirus, SARS and pandemic influenza is of particular interest.” In fact, those germs (which also include E. Coli) can live for up to six hours in the air after a flush.
Though you’re not at an enormous risk for contracting SARS in your bathroom — or even a public one —Philip Tierno, a microbiologist at New York University told Business Insider that "it is a good idea to lower the seat, especially if the bathroom is used by multiple people.”
Tierno also noted that it’s an excellent idea to keep your toothbrush, mouthguard, or any other mouth accessories in a cabinet where they are less likely to be impacted by microscopic drops of human waste. Oh and one more valuable tip from Tierno — "It's most important to wash your hands before you exit the toilet.”