by: Tony Isaacs
(NaturalNews) Many of us have heard that flushing toilets could result in unsanitary airborne particles that make their way onto our toothbrushes. In recent years, largely to a segment on the popular "Mythbusters" show, the idea of water droplets traveling from the toilet to our toothbrushes has been cast as a sort of urban myth. However, what Mythbusters actually found did not disprove the idea of particles traveling from the toilet to toothbrushes, nor did it provide any rationale for leaving toothbrushes exposed.
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The aerosol effect was first brought to light by University of Arizona environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba when he published a scientific article in 1975 describing the disturbing results of his tests on bacterial and viral aerosols due to toilet flushing. He conducted tests by placing pieces of gauze in different locations around the bathroom and measuring the bacterial and viral levels on them after a toilet flush. His results were more than a little disturbing: he found that the aerosols traveled as far as six to eight feet away from the toilet.
"Droplets are going all over the place – it's like the Fourth of July," Gerba said. "One way to see this is to put a dye in the toilet, flush it, and then hold a piece of paper over it"
In the Mythbusters segment, which has been cited to prove the idea that particles do in fact travel outside the toilet, what the Mythbusters team actually found was that fecal coliform bacteria can be found everywhere – including on a pair of "control" toothbrushes they put away in a medicine cabinet in another room. Such a finding is hardly reassuring nor is it in any way proof that particles do not travel from the toilet to exposed toothbrushes. Plus, the Mythbusters team only tested for bacteria and not actual particles nor viruses.
It is true that many do not consider fecal coliform bacteria to be a health risk since they are found naturally in the human body – primarily in the lower digestive tract where the body processes and eliminates waste. However, that does not mean that it is a good idea to introduce the bacteria into our mouths.
Fecal coliform grows in an environment similar to other waterborne bacteria, and thus their presence outside of the body means that other bacteria like hepatitis A or dysentery could also be present. Notably, municipal water districts test for the presence of fecal coliform bacteria to determine whether waste treatment is being conducted properly.
Obviously, it is not healthy to leave toothbrushes exposed in the bath room. Toothbrushes should be covered and protected and toilet lids should be closed before flushing. Since bacteria can accumulate on toothbrushes wherever they are located, it would also be a good idea to regularly clean them with an item such as a UV device made for that purpose and/or to spritz some colloidal silver on them prior to use. Another good idea would be to use a natural antiseptic toothpaste product such as one which contains tea tree oil.