Toilets are naturally dirty, but their design makes them even dirtier

  • 13.12.2022
  • John Crimaldi
  • The Conversation

Every time you flush a toilet, it releases plumes of tiny water droplets into the air around you. These droplets, called aerosol plumes, can spread pathogens from human waste and expose people in public restrooms to contagious diseases.

Scientific understanding of the spread of aerosol plumes—and public awareness of their existence—has been hampered by the fact that they are normally invisible. My colleagues Aaron True, Karl Linden, Mark Hernandez, Lars Larson, and Anna Pauls and I were able to use high-power lasers to illuminate these plumes, enabling us to image and measure the location and motion of spreading aerosol plumes from flushing commercial toilets in vivid detail.