Beijing: Next time you visit a public toilet, put the lid down before you flush. A new Chinese study has warned that flushing a toilet generates strong turbulence that can expel aerosol particles containing coronavirus and potentially infect the next bathroom user.
The researchers at the Yangzhou University in China used computer modeling to show how the water from a flushed toilet could spray up into the air as high as a metre.
In a paper published in the journal ‘Physics of Fluids’, the team said that it is reasonable to assume that the high-speed airflow will expel aerosol particles high in the air above the toilet, allowing the virus to spread.
“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,” said study author Ji-Xiang Wang of Yangzhou University.
“Some 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the total number of particles can rise above the toilet seat to cause large-area spread, with the height of these particles reaching 106.5 cm from the ground,” wrote the authors.
“Put the toilet lid down before flushing, which can basically prevent virus transmission,” advised the authors.
Further advice includes cleaning the toilet seat before use, as floating virus particles could have settled.
Users are also advised to wash hands carefully after flushing, as virus particles may be present on the flush and door handle.
“This paper may also enlighten toilet manufacturers and prompt them to produce better designed toilets in which the lid is automatically put down before flushing and cleaned before and after flushing,” said the authors.