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Flushing the toilet may spread coronavirus, researchers say

The toilet seat may be the latest thing to fear when it comes to the transmission of coronavirus.
The toilet seat may be the latest thing to fear when it comes to the transmission of coronavirus.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Wear a mask, practice social distancing — and now be careful about what you do in the bathroom.

According to a study published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, flushing the toilet can send aerosol particles almost three feet in the air, which could possibly spread coronavirus if you’re the next person in the stall, or if those droplets land on bathroom surfaces.

“Toilets are a daily necessity but also become dangerous if used improperly, especially against the current scenario of a global pandemic,” the study authored by Yun-yun Li, Ji-Xiang Wang and Xi Chen concluded.

“It’s very alarming,” Wang, who studies fluid dynamics at Yangzhou University in China, told The New York Times. He pointed out that it’s nearly impossible to keep bathrooms sanitized all the time, and that sharing a toilet may be unavoidable for family members even when one person is sick and isolating separately in the home.

The Times story says that it remains unknown whether public or shared toilets are a common point of transmission for COVID-19, but the study raises new fears.

The researchers suggest three procedures to reduce the risk:

  • Put the toilet lid down before flushing
  • Clean the toilet seat before using it, since floating virus particles could have settled on the surface
  • Wash your hands carefully after flushing, as virus particles may be present on the flush button and door handle

We can all do that, right?

If you’re interested in reading more about toilet science, the full study can be read below:


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