Flushing public restrooms can lead to spread coronavirus, said researchers

Recently reported by the Chinese researchers that flushing public restroom toilets or urinals can spew clouds of particles carrying viruses, including coronavirus.The study published in the ‘Physics of Fluids’ journal have found that coronavirus particles from a flushing urinal can rose to two feet in the air in just  less than six seconds “potentially infecting the unsuspecting urinal user”. The work of researchers shows that the public restrooms can be dangerous places for being potentially infected with a virus, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other studies have also shown that both faeces and urine based virus transmission is possible.

“To do this, we used a method of computational fluid dynamics to model the particle movement that occurs with the act of flushing,” according to the study of researcher Xiangdong Liu from Yangzhou University in China.

“The specific models are the volume-of-fluids model and the discrete-phase model,” he also added.

Flushing a urinal is much like flushing a toilet, which involves an interaction between the gas and liquid interfaces. The result of the flushing causes a huge spread of aerosol particles to be released from the urinal, which the researchers  have simulated and tracked.

Liu said, what the simulations revealed is disturbing. The trajectory of the tiny particles ejected by flushing a urinal “manifests an external-spread type, with more than 57 per cent of the particles travelling away from the urinal,”.

But that’s not all. When men use urinals within a public restroom, these tiny particles can reach their thigh within 5.5 seconds as compared to the toilet flush, which takes 35 seconds to reach slightly higher, wrote researchers.

“Particles from urinals, however, show a more violent climbing tendency. The climbing speed is much faster than toilet flushing,” stated Liu.

Urinals are used most frequently within the densely populated areas and the researchers have point out that particles will travel faster and farther, which poses a serious public health challenge. This work shows that how much important it is to wear a mask within public places, especially in the restrooms.

“From our work, it can be inferred that urinal flushing promotes the spread of bacteria and viruses,” added Liu.

“Wearing a mask should be mandatory within public restrooms during the pandemic and anti-diffusion improvements are urgently needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” said the author of study.


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