Toilet Flushing Could Spread the Coronavirus via Poop Droplets
Potentially infected aerosols remain airborne long enough to infect others, but more research is needed to determine if the virus is actually spreading this way
When someone goes number two and flushes the toilet, the turbulent activity can send a cloud of tiny droplets three feet or more above the bowl, where they can be inhaled or fall to bathroom surfaces, according to a new computer model.
If the person using the toilet is infected with Covid-19, the suspended droplets could carry the coronavirus, other researchers have said previously.
“As water pours into the toilet bowl from one side, it strikes the opposite side, creating vortices,” the researchers explain in the journal Physics of Fluids. “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. A toilet with two inlet ports for water generates an even greater velocity of upward flowing aerosol particles.”
“As water pours into the toilet bowl from one side, it strikes the opposite side, creating vortices.”
“The simulation results are alarming,” the scientists say.
Aerosols from a flushed toilet can actually stay aloft for up to 30 minutes, according to a 2018 study in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. And since other studies have found that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, can survive in human feces, this could potentially be another path of transmission for the virus.
It’s not yet clear if the disease is in fact spreading by this means.
“Ultimately, more research is needed to determine whether exposure to stool is spreading this virus and making the pandemic worse,” says E. Susan Amirian, PhD, an epidemiologist at Rice University…