Communal bathrooms can harbor plenty of pathogens, but simple precautions will help keep them at bay.
If you spend enough time outside of your home, human physiology dictates that you’ll eventually need to use a public restroom. And as with any shared space, chances are that it will be filled with germs. But what risks, if any, do communal lavatories pose to public health?
“There are some health risks associated with public bathrooms,” said Erica Donner, a professor of environmental science at the University of South Australia. The size of the risk depends on many things, including how often the restroom is cleaned and how well ventilated it is, she said. But you can also take simple steps to protect yourself, said Dr. Donner, a co-author of a recent review of studies on infectious disease transmission in public restrooms.