Scientists have found one more behavior to be aware of, aside from clearing out whatever business a person left behind after using the comfort room. According to them, flushing the toilet can generate a cloud of an aerosol droplet that rises nearly 3 feet.

This toilet plume may linger in the air long enough for the next person to inhale it, or droplets could land on the bathroom surface.

The researchers did some simulations which show that the toilet plume carries infectious coronavirus particles that are already present in the surrounding air or recently shed from a person's stool.

This new study published in the journal Physics of Fluids on Tuesday, adds to the growing evidence that coronavirus can also be transmitted via virus-laden feces aside from respiratory feces.

It also highlights the need to rethink some of the common spaces people share, such as public toilets. However, some research is still needed to confirm that they are a common point of transmission, said pathology and microbiology professor Joshua L. Santarpia, who was not part of the study, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Coronavirus in the Small Intestine

Coronavirus is most commonly found in the cells of the lungs and upper respiratory tract. But a recent study suggests that they can also live in cell receptors in the small intestine, as there were patients reported to experience diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, among other symptoms.

The researchers found coronavirus particles in the patient's feces, and traces of RNA on toilet bowls and sinks in hospital quarantine rooms. But experiments suggest that these materials are less likely to be infectious compared to the virus-infected coughs.

The computer simulation of the toilet flushing mechanism demonstrates that when water pours in the toilet, it creates a vortex that displaces air in the bowl. These vortices move upward, and the centrifugal force pushes out about 6,000 very tiny droplets.

The flushing can force 40% to 60% of the produced aerosols high above the seat, depending on the number of inlets, Boston News reports.

Ji-Xiang Wang, the co-author of the study and a student of fluid dynamics at the Yangzhou University, said that their results are very alarming since keeping the toilet sanitized all the time is impossible. Additionally, sharing a toilet with family members, even those who are sick, is nearly impossible.

Now that the world is slowly reopening, more and more people will share public toilets on restaurants and other establishments. Aerosolized particles may still linger in single-used toilets, and adding to that problem is the poorly ventilated space, which increases the risk of exposure to the infection.

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Improvements in Bathroom Etiquette and Design

Wang advised that when using the toilet, people should close the lid first before flushing its contents. However, this might not always be the case, especially in public restrooms.

Moreover, Wang emphasized the importance of washing the hands frequently and thoroughly to avoid catching the disease. He also added that people should avoid touching their faces and keeping their mask on while inside the bathroom to lessen the risk of exposure.

The researchers hope that their new research will help lead to making improvements in bathroom design. Other experts have considered putting indoor ultraviolet lights and automated disinfectants to relieve the pressure on keeping public toilets clean.

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