VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – When you gotta go, you gotta go. And when it’s in a public bathroom you have to flush… somehow.
A recent study found 64 per cent of North Americans pull up the trousers, balance on one leg and use the other to “foot flush” when using a public toilet to avoid the germs. But is it necessary?
“I wouldn’t say so,” says Bob Hancock, a microbiology and immunology professor at the University of British Columbia.
“Basically, the most important practice when you’re going to the washroom is to wash your hands. Pretty well anything you could pick up from a toilet flusher would be removed if you wash your hands appropriately at the end of the whole process.”
And Hancock says it’s not just the john you have to worry about.
“Remember, germs are not just picked up from what other people leave on toilet flushers, they can be picked up from your own body.”
That’s right. You are dirty, people.
But is there really a risk of contracting anything dangerous from a public toilet? (Pregnancy notwithstanding!)
“I suppose there is some risk,” Hancock tells News1130. “But usually for many diarrhoeal pathogens — which is what you’re worried about, getting diarrhoea from touching something that’s been in somebody’s body — you require quite a lot of bacteria in order to get an infection. It’s not just picking them up but the bacteria growing on your skin. For viruses, it’s a little bit more risky but not tremendously so.”
And again, all those risks can be avoided with a proper hand-washing.
“Frankly, I’d be more worried about a lot of people sticking their dirty shoes on toilets that I’d be using,” he laughs. “It would be nice if they’d just ‘kick’ the habit.”
Ha! Potty humour.