A chaotic movement will carry a cloud of tiny droplets that can be inhaled or spill onto bathroom surfaces when someone flushes the toilet, according to a new computer model.
One exposed flush could theoretically burp into your bathroom sanctuary by a cloud of poop particles in its aerosol form. That is disgusting in any sense and unwelcome in our current COVID-19 atmosphere.
Previous studies have shown that suspended droplets may carry the coronavirus if the person using the toilet is infected by such disease.
Toilets can release a tiny geyser of fecal mist for up to three feet
The evidence suggests that the coronavirus - although found in human waste - is primarily transmitted from person to person. However, we unknowingly spread particles through the teeny drops of saliva as we speak, and scream, and sneeze, etc.
Nevertheless, a new study by Chinese researchers recommends caution when flushing public and private toilets as you release a tiny geyser of fecal mist.
Researchers simulated viral spreading by flushing into two types of toilets. One is annular-inlet toilets, whose bowls fill all around the rim as water. The single-inlet toilets, on the other hand, is overflowing through a single spillway.
Flushing produced interior turbulence intense enough in both types of toilets to send poop particles rocketing up and out. Around 40 to 60 percent of particles reached the bowl's brim, which "leads to the spread of the virus on a large scale," the study says. This spray radius of "toilet plume" reached as high as three feet off the ground, and proceeded to float there for over a minute.
"Flushing will lift the virus up from the toilet bowl," co-author Ji-Xiang Wang of Yangzhou University warned the Washington Post. Where possible, Wang said, we "need to close the lid first and then trigger the flushing process." And of course, you know you should thoroughly wash your hands.
Flush with caution
Again, there is no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus has spread this way. Although it's not a fact that we always want to dwell on, many diseases spread through fecal-oral transmission. That is when small quantities of fecal matter reach the body through the mouth.
However, the argument is that it might mitigate the risk. It is also an additional cause of concern in a very crowded bathroom. What's more, the toilet plume flew too long beneath our collective disgust radar.
"The aerosols generated by toilets are something that we've kind of known about for a while, but many people have taken for granted," Joshua L. Santarpia, a University of Nebraska Medical Center professor of pathology and microbiology, told the New York Times. "This study adds a lot of the evidence that everyone needs [to] take better action," Santarpia, who was not involved in the research, added.
Of course, some toilets can not have a toilet seat to put down at all, especially in public bathrooms. The best thing to do in this situation is to be careful about our own personal hygiene.
The other two suggestions from the researchers are that we clean the toilet seat before using it - a concept that is especially applicable to the use of public toilets. After using the bathroom, we continue to wash our hands with caution.