By Derrick Lane, BDO Staff Writer
Going to the bathroom is something that any grown adult should do automatically. Like, you really don’t think about it unless there’s an accident, and then you go about your day. But a new study says you should think about how you go to the toilet now so as not to spread the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The study says you should close the toilet lid before flushing, and not just because it makes it flush quieter. Because the coronavirus may affect the digestive system, flushing can send a spray of droplets containing coronavirus particles up to three feet into the air, according to the study published in the Physics of Fluids.
The study said 40- 60% of the particles can reach above the toilet seat and settle on surrounding surfaces where the next person to use the toilet could touch them. The study by researchers at Yangzhou University in China calls for more investigation into the role of toilets in epidemic prevention.
“The daily flow of people in a public washroom is stunningly large: thus, a confirmed case may cause a massive number of infections,” the study said.
Most people, by now, know the coronavirus is usually transmitted through droplets coming out of a person’s mouth and lungs. Hence, when a person sneezes you should sneeze into your elbow or a napkin, handkerchief. But recent studies have found the virus can also locate in the small intestine and that digestive problems accompany about half the coronavirus cases.
An often-used toilet creates a higher risk of transmission.
“As water pours into the toilet bowl from one side, it strikes the opposite side, creating vortices. These vortices continue upward into the air above the bowl, carrying droplets to a height of nearly three feet, where they might be inhaled or settle onto surfaces. These droplets are so small they float in the air for over a minute,” said co-author of the study Ji-Xiang Wang, of Yangzhou University.
The computer simulation used for the study showed that these aerosolized droplets last long enough to be breathed in by the next user in a busy setting.
“One can foresee that the velocity will be even higher when a toilet is used frequently, such as in the case of a family toilet during a busy time or a public toilet serving a densely populated area,” Wang continued.
The scientists said the “alarming results” of the study led them to advocate several safety procedures:
1. Put down the lid before flushing
2. Clean the seat before using the toilet
3. And of course, wash your hands afterwards because virus particles may be present on the toilet handle and door handle.
It may seem like a simple or small thing, but it makes so much difference. Before you know it, it will be a healthy habit you won’t have to think twice about