Letting toilet water mellow should not pose a health risk

RALEIGH

The message, "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down," is one most people in downtown Raleigh told Eyewitness News they would abide by.

"I think at this point we don't really have a choice so if it's yellow let it mellow," Cary resident Madrica Lowery said.

When asked if they would only do it at home or if they felt comfortable doing that at work or at a restaurant most people said just inside their own homes.

"I think at home it's not a problem, for the good of our city I don't think that's a problem at all," Cindy Wagner, a Raleigh resident said.

Vimal Vyas says he would practice that, no matter where he had to go to the bathroom.

However, some people are concerned about health risks.

Tony Brown of Raleigh felt going to the bathroom on top of someone else's waste could lead to health problems. He's concerned about germs.

State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jeff Engel says there is not a health risk.

"Urine is normally sterile as a body fluid. Even if you have a urinary tract infection with bacteria in your urine it would be inactivated with the chlorine levels in the public water supply," he said. "So there's really no known disease transmission with urine left un-flushed in the toilet."

Dr. Engel says women shouldn't be concerned about the "splash factor" either, knowing they may feel more vulnerable. People should still flush their toilets at least once a day.

"Things like to grow in urine and after a while the chlorine will inactivate in the toilet bowl water. It will being to bubble away and things will begin to grow. The odor will increase so it can get disgusting, smell bad and stain your toilet," he said.

There are dual flush toilets that are made in Australia that are gaining popularity in Raleigh.

Carolina Decorative Plumbing on Trademark Road sells Caroma toilets that have two flushing buttons.

One for "number one," whiches uses about .8 gallons of water to flush liquid waste. The button for "number two" uses 1.6 gallons, twice as much but still a lot less than average toilets.

Josh Potter, Carolina Decorative Plumbing's Chief Financial Officer says the dual flush toilets sell for $300-500 each and can save a household of four 12-20,000 gallons of water a year.

"Everybody wants to do their part. When you think about taking showers, cooking, washing cars, whatever you're using water for, [going to the bathroom] is something everyone does every day and this is an easy way for people to do their part in terms of the conservation effort," he said.

Potter says more and more people who are remodeling their homes or building new businesses are buying dual flush toilets.

If more of us used the water saving toilets, we wouldn't have to worry about what color the water is when we flush during a drought.

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