Lidless toilets spread illness, says study

9th of January 2012
Lidless toilets spread illness, says study

Always put the lid down on the toilet. That's the conclusion of a new study examining the amount of Clostridium difficile bacteria that fly into the air and contaminate surfaces when a toilet is flushed without the lid on.

The research was carried out by the Microbiology Department at Leeds General Infirmary in the UK and published in the International Journal of Hospital Infection. Using fecal suspensions of C.difficile, the researchers measured airborne suspension of the bacteria in addition to surface contamination by the bacteria after flushing of both lidless and lidded toilets.

Air samples 25 cm above the toilet, which is about the height of the handle, contained C.difficile, with the highest numbers coming from samples taken immediately after flushing. 

Researchers also found the number of viable bacteria to be 12-fold higher from open toilets compared with the same toilet when the lid was closed.

Even with the implementation of strict disinfecting protocols, the authors write, C.difficile clusters continue to spring up in healthcare settings, prompting a search for unaddressed contamination sources.

The airborne bacteria can settle on virtually any surface, from sink to towels and toothbrushes.

"Lidless conventional toilets increase the risk of C.difficile environmental contamination, and thus we suggest their use is discouraged, particularly in settings where infection is common," the researchers conclude.


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