COVID-19 Can Spread After Flushing Public Urinals; Closing Toilet Lid Reduces Risk

Wearing Masks Mandatory In Public Washrooms

New Delhi: A Chinese study published in the ‘Physics of Fluids’ journal says that the COVID-19 virus can potentially be transmitted by the cloud of aerosol triggered when a public urinal is flushed.

The study recommends wearing a mask in public washrooms.

Particle movements, when urinals are flushed, was tracked and simulated by scientists from Yangzhou University in China. “We used a method of computational fluid dynamics to model the particle movement that occurs with the act of flushing,” said the study’s co-author Xiangdong Liu.

Flushing a urinal results in an interaction between gas and liquid which produces a large spread of aerosol particles released from the urinal.

The researchers found that more than 57 per cent of the particles travelled away from the urinal.

Within 5.5 seconds of flushing, these particles can reach the thigh height of most men and 35 seconds to reach slightly higher. These particles “show a more violent climbing tendency. The climbing speed is much faster than toilet flushing,” explained Liu.

Since urinals are more frequently used in densely populated areas, it can pose a serious health challenge.

“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,” Liu added.

Earlier, researchers of fluids at the same university had recommended closing the lid on toilets before flushing to prevent the spread of aerosols. They also recommended washing hands properly with soap after use.

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