What is Toilet Plume and How Does it Affect You?

Flush Toilet close up shot for background

While the term “toilet plume” may make many people think of a fancy way to make their porcelain throne more presentable for guests, it is a real problem that most homeowners do not account for. Toilet plume occurs when a user flushing the toilet, causing a spray of microscopic particles of urine, feces or any other materials that may be inside of the toilet into the air. Unfortunately, since bathrooms are often small, enclosed spaces, the spread of these particles can often reach nearby toothbrushes and hand towels. 

In a 2005 study performed by the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers found that microorganisms can reach a vertical height of around 2.7 feet after a toilet has been flushed; however, other information about the possible spread is limited. Many leading experts in the microbiology community believe that toilet plume will reach around six feet away from the toilet’s location – often the entire surface area of a standard small bathroom. While more research is needed to verify this, that does not mean that individuals should not be accounting for toilet plume and the potential effects it could be having on them. 

Can Toilet Plume Make You Sick?

With toilet plume established as a real problem inside the average bathroom, most people will then start to wonder if the continued spread of microscopic particles of poop or pee are capable of making them sick – especially if they are landing on their toothbrush. To get the answer to this question, it is important to understand that not all germs are pathogens and the research behind whether toilet plume can cause the development of sickness is divided. 

The average reader of this article has probably experienced countless levels of toilet plume every day without becoming sick. But what do lead scientists have to say about the potential effects of toilet plume? In 2015, a review published in the American Journal of Infection Control analyzed several studies where researchers would intentionally place pathogens inside of a toilet and determine how far they traveled after being flushed and how long they remained airborne. Throughout these studies, several common bacteria found in feces or vomit were used. Some of the results they found include: 

  • E. coli – This bacteria is commonly found inside the intestines of humans and other animals where it usually causes no harm; however, some strains can lead to severe food poisoning. Once introduced into a toilet, the bacteria can be spread with each flush through toilet plume. During the study, E. coli remained airborne for between 4 and 6 hours after the toilet was flushed. 
  • Salmonella – Another potentially dangerous bacteria that is commonly associated with foodborne illness, salmonella can cause diarrhea and stomach cramping. In extreme cases, it can also cause fever or may become life-threatening if left untreated. Researchers found that salmonella can cling to the toilet bowl for 50 days and become aerosolized through toilet plume with each flush during that period. 

While only two types of bacteria, the results may seem a little scary for the average reader. Unfortunately, researchers did not expand the test to determine if these aerosolized bacteria could infect people and making them sick. At the current time, no research shows this is a viable way for an infectious illness to spread, but it does not make it any less disgusting to think about. To be safe, practicing good toilet hygiene is a must. 

Easy Ways to Improve Toilet Hygiene

For individuals that are still worried about toilet plume and the bacteria it spreads, there is one simple way to limit the amount of exposure that is occurring. According to the leading experts, simply putting the toilet seat down before flushing can help limit concentrations of airborne bacteria. Most experts have found that when comparing toilet plume when the lid is up instead of closed, these bacteria concentrations were nearly 12 times higher. Taking the time to use disinfecting wipes around the bathroom can also help remove bacteria or other germs that are hanging out both on the toilet and the surrounding surfaces. 

To achieve the highest level of protection possible, it is also important to eliminate urine spray that could potentially be occurring during normal use. As an innovative toilet hygiene product made from antibacterial plastic, BowlsEye™ helps keep the toilet and surrounding area clean by reducing urine splatter that may be occurring. This, in conjunction with closing a toilet lid to flush, can help reduce airborne particles or bacteria that could be spreading throughout the bathroom. For more information about BowlsEye™ and the various available models, you are encouraged to visit our online shop

Why Choose BowlsEye?

Guy Donohue, The BowlsEye Guy, came up with the concept for this unique product over 20 years ago. Through his belief and faith, Guy decided to put a great team together and bring the BowlsEye to the world. We encourage you to browse our store to find the model that is right for your needs. If you have any questions or concerns, we would love to hear from you. Contact us today or give us a call at (918) 970-2555!

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