KEY POINTS

  • The “aerosolized feces” can be propelled into the air and contaminate it under the phenomena called toilet plume
  • New study indicates that the healthcare facilities are at higher risk of encountering a spread of COVID-19 as a result of toilet plume
  • Experts said at least 80% of fecal matters can be prevented from releasing into the air by flushing with the lid closed

Scientists have warned people that COVID-19 can spread through the shreds of human feces that escape the toilet bowl during a flush, the matter that they call “aerosolized feces.” Hence, they have emphasized closing the toilet lid while flushing.

A group of researchers from China last month stated that the novel coronavirus is also spread by fecal-oral transmission, other than respiratory droplets or environmental contact. The researchers noted that the virus could be suitably lodged inside the gastronomical tract resulting in a significant number of coronavirus patients experiencing diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal discomfort.

According to a  study published by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in 2015, the “aerosolized feces” can be propelled into the air thereby contaminating it under the phenomena called toilet plume.

Qingyan Chen, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, told Forbes that the easiest way to help stem the spread of the coronavirus is to “close the lid and then flush,” adding 80% particles could be held back from releasing into the air by following the instruction.

He further said that one should wash their hands, and then flush using gloves or paper towel while using a public toilet to minimize the contamination period. He also urged people to maintain one or two minutes’ gap between uses.

“Aerosolization can continue through multiple flushes to expose subsequent toilet users. Some of the aerosols desiccate to become droplet nuclei and remain adrift in the air currents,” according to the study.

Symptomatic people are said to be the major contributors of fecal-oral transmission. Hence, Chen said one must disinfect the entire washroom with alcohol or ultraviolet light in case someone shares a toilet with a COVID-19 positive person.

According to the study, the healthcare facilities are at increased risk of encountering a spread of COVID-19 as a result of toilet plume.

Toilet People have been licking toilet seats for the "coronavirus challenge." Photo: Pixabay