02 September 2020

"When you flush a toilet, you breathe in toilet water"

This is not a new concept.  The flushing of toilets creates aerosols that emerge from and hover above the toilet bowl.  Those droplets may contain any microorganisms that were in the toilet water.  This is why everyone shares some of their microbiome with housemates or roommates.

And it may have relevance to coronavirus transmission:

Studies are showing that the novel coronavirus can be detected in stool samples and anal swab samples for weeks. In fact, scientists are testing wastewater as an early tracking system for outbreaks. And a recent case on an airplane identified the airplane bathroom as the potential source.

Here’s what we know: When you flush a toilet, the churning and bubbling of water aerosolizes fecal matter. That creates particles that will float in the air, which we will now politely call “bioaerosols” for the rest of this article...

How many airborne particles, exactly, are we talking about? Upwards of 1 million additional particles per cubic meter of air. Not all of the aerosols generated will carry the virus, of course. But, let’s be clear: When you flush the toilet, you’re breathing in toilet water, and whatever is in that toilet water — including viruses and bacteria.

The study also found that bioaerosols spread around the room and lingered in the air. In fact, basic aerosol physics tell us these bioaerosols will stay aloft until one of four things happen: they settle out onto surfaces, they are removed through dilution, they are removed through filtration or they are removed by your lung...

Continued at The Washington Post, where there are suggestions re coping mechanisms (toilet lids, ventilation, cleaning...)

RelatedHow 2020 has changed public urination.


  1. That's why toilets have lids

  2. That's why I generally don't use public bathrooms now. When I had to do so on a recent airplane trip, I brought a N95 mask, since they block aerosols. In fact, the way you can tell if you have a good seal around an N95 is that you can't smell any room odors. The odors are pretty strong in airport bathrooms, and its quite striking when you can't smell anything. If your mask slips a little and you get a whiff of bathroom, you immediately know.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...