What with being in the commercial janitorial service field, and stressing the health and safety benefits of how we organize our cleaning, a recent article in Romper on the dangers of public restrooms caught my eye.
The lead paragraph quotes an acquaintance, Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist down the road at the University of Arizona: "... the real threat of germs lies in the area surrounding the toilet, and not the toilet itself. Because public toilets have eliminated toilet lids, it makes it impossible to guard the surrounding area from the spray of droplets that tend to escape when you flush."
The point is that the flush propels a plume of very fine germ laden water droplets into the air. From a janitorial perspective, we respond by cleaning and disinfecting floors, stall walls, fixtures, and anything else in the area (though usually not an occupant). From the point of view of others in the restroom, or who might wander in later, not only are the surfaces germ laden after the flush, but the mist hangs in the air for quite a while, depending on droplet size, air circulation, and so on.
All of which is why you ought close the lid (over the seat) before you flush. If there is a lid.
So, cover your mouth (or don't inhale) while you flush - or maybe while in the restroom generally. Choose the toilet stall nearest the entrance (read the article). Activate the flush handle with your foot. Use the sink faucets and open the door with a paper towel as you leave. And wash up.
In passing, I notice that the "environmentally friendly" low water use toilets, that utilize a more aggressive flush, are much better at creating and propelling the droplets, but they generally come without a lid. So, "environmental" is, in this instance, unhealthy.