Toilet-flushing can spread coronavirus droplets, study finds

Anuja Vaidya (Twitter) - Print  | 

Flushing a toilet can generate fine air particles that may linger in the air or land on nearby surfaces, and a new study shows that those aerosols also can spread coronavirus particles, The New York Times reports.

The study, published in the journal Physics of Fluids, involves a computer simulation of the toilet-flushing mechanism.

Researchers found that when water pours into the toilet, it creates a vortex that displaces air in the bowl. These vortices move up, and centrifugal force causes about 6,000 tiny water droplets and aerosol particles to come out of the toilet, the Times reports. Toilet-flushing can result in 40 percent to 60 percent of produced aerosol particles reaching above the toilet seat.

Previous research has shown that COVID-19 patients can shed the virus through their feces, and DNA of the virus has been found in bathrooms, on toilet bowls and in sinks.

Thus, coronavirus shed in a patient's stool or present in the surrounding air could be flung into the environment when the toilet is flushed, the Times reports.

It is unclear how infectious virus particles found in aerosols are, Ji-Xiang Wang, a researcher from China and study co-author told the Times.

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