As it stands, indoor public spaces pose a considerable risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, primarily due to poor ventilation.
A new paper published in the journal Physics of Fluids suggests that there’s another liability associated with enclosed environments–even if said environments are operating with limited capacity.
“Late last year, a huge outbreak of the COVID-19 occurred across the world. At this point, millions of people have been confirmed to be infected by the novel corona virus called “SARS-CoV-2,” causing huge economic loss and panic worldwide,” the researchers from Yangzhou University, China reported. “A virus-laden particle movement from urinal flushing is simulated. Similar to the toilet-induced flushing, results indicate that the trajectory of the particles triggered by the urinal flushing manifests an external spread type.”
Merely flushing can put individuals at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus in seconds via feces and urine-infected virus droplets.
In poorly circulated rooms, the force induced by a toilet flush can propel active coronavirus debris back into circulation.
According to the new report, flushes in male restrooms are more energetic. So much so aerosols are released to thigh level as quickly as 5.5 seconds, and it reportedly takes roughly 35 seconds for them to reach a person’s face.
“The climbing speed is much faster than toilet flushing. Manifests an external spread type, with more than 57% of the particles traveling away from the urinal,” one of the study’s co-authors, Xiangdong Liu explained in a media release. “From our work, it can be inferred that urinal flushing indeed promotes the spread of bacteria and viruses,” Liu says. “Wearing a mask should be mandatory within public restrooms during the pandemic.”
As winter approaches, the return of indoor spaces has become an engineering problem. In the time since SARS-CoV-2 penetrated the US, it has been determined that airborne transmission is actually more viable than surface contamination.
For the hospitality industry to operate with full capacity face mask awareness has to increase and ventilation has to improve air quality without putting patrons in danger of breathing in harmful chemicals.
“A more violent climbing tendency is discovered in this Letter. Wearing masks should be made mandatory in public washrooms, and anti-diffusion improvements of facilities in public washrooms are urgently needed, especially in the current “SARS-CoV-2” crisis,” the authors concluded. “It is reasonable to predict that the urinal flushing would cause a large spread of potential aerosol particles residing in the urinal originally.”
N95 masks and double-layer cotton masks offer the greatest degree of protection. If worn correctly they’re more than 90% effective at blocking virus-carrying particles.
Be sure to check out the mathematical risk calculator that assesses COVID-19 risk with offices, restaurants, schools, and personal gatherings, developed by Jose-Luis Jimenez, who is a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Colorado and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences.