If someone farts in an operating room, will he/she contaminate the room with germs? Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki and microbiologist Luke Tennent of Australia together devised an experiment to find out:
[Tennent] asked a colleague to break wind directly onto two Petri dishes from a distance of 5 centimetres, first fully clothed, then with his trousers down. Then he observed what happened. Overnight, the second Petri dish sprouted visible lumps of two types of bacteria that are usually found only in the gut and on the skin. But the flatus which had passed through clothing caused no bacteria to sprout, which suggests that clothing acts as a filter.
Another source (below) claims that the ‘colleague’ who supplied the farts was, in fact, an eight-year-old boy:
Sydney Morning Herald – July 16, 2001
Incidentally, Dr. Kruszelnicki has been mentioned before on WU. See ‘falling cats’.