Flushing public urinals can spread COVID-19, study finds – New York Post
Flushing a urinal causes an “alarming upward flow” of coronavirus-laden particles, a new study has found — prompting health experts to recommend wearing face coverings in public bathrooms.
Researchers in China found that COVID-19 particles from a flushing urinal can shoot up to two feet in the air in less than 6 seconds — potentially infecting the unsuspecting urinal user, according to a report published in Physics of Fluids.
“Urinal flushing indeed promotes the spread of bacteria and viruses,” said Xiangdong Liu, one of the Yangzhou University researchers behind the study, USA Today reported Tuesday.
“Wearing a mask should be mandatory within public restrooms during the pandemic, and anti-diffusion improvements are urgently needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Liu said.
The findings come in the wake of a study by the university in June that found that flushing a toilet can help spread the deadly virus by hurling droplets up to three feet away — that can then linger in the air for up to a minute.
Researchers in that study said the droplets can spew out from a flushed toilet within 70 seconds and leap as much as a foot above the bowl.
Both studies present potentially dangerous scenarios amid the deadly global pandemic.
“Potentially, it could contaminate other surfaces you would touch — the handle, the tap,” University of Arizona virology professor Charles Gerba told USA Today. “The concern is also, was there anything left over from the person who was there before? Aerosolization from the previous user you may potentially inhale?”
Gerba said most people are unaware that urine and stool release particles into the air, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“It’s probably been overlooked — urine contamination,” he told the outlet. “Smallpox, Zika virus are excreted in the urine. What’s surprising is that a respiratory virus can be excreted in the urine.”