Scientists examine how to make public bathrooms less nasty

Bethan Owen Contributor
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Modern science can now teach men how to use a urinal without making a disgusting mess.

In order to prove exactly how practical science can be, and to promote hygiene in public restrooms, Professors Tadd Truscott and Randy Hurd of Brigham Young University have been researching the art of reducing urinal spray.

“In response to harsh and repeated criticisms from our mothers and several failed relationships with women, we present the splash dynamics of a simulated human male urine stream,” the two wrote in their conference abstract.

Their research found that splashback was lowest when the jets of water coming from a urine simulator were close to the wall and came in at a narrow “angle of attack,” while aiming directly at a target will result in a high and unappealing level of splashback.

Hurd’s advice is to stand slightly to one side and aim downwards at a low angle.

“The closer you are, the better,” he said. “If you can get stream impact with the porcelain, it’s a lot less chaotic.”

Truscott advises people to “be artistic” with their aim.

“People ask me, are you serious? I tell them yes, this may involve 12-year-old humor, but it’s also a real problem,” Truscott told BBC News. “We’ve all been in disgusting toilets with puddles on the floor — these places are a breeding ground for bacteria.”

Others are taking the subject seriously, too. The team has reportedly been “inundated” with a wide range of commercial products designed to reduce spray, including everything from splash-resistant fabric inserts to angular urinals and toilet bowls.

The team is based in Provo, Utah, out of Brigham Young University’s appropriately named “splash lab,” which is designed to study “the physical mechanisms of fluid behaviors.”

Although they wanted accurate results, the team decided to avoid collecting real-world measurements. Instead, they built a urination simulator.

The “Water Angle Navigation Guide” can hold up to five gallons of water and has hoses that replicate male and female urethras, including average urination velocity and pressure. The team used this scientific marvel to fire water at toilet walls and toilet water while recording the results with high-speed cameras and analyzing the resulting spray.

The team has put together a few short videos of their work.

Hurd, Prof Truscott, and other team members are scheduled to present their research at an American Physical Society meeting later this month.

Tags : urine water
Bethan Owen