A new study suggests that flushing a toilet with the lid up could increase the spread of Covid-19.
Researchers from China’s Yangzhou University have used computer simulations to show that water flushed in an uncovered toilet can eject infected aerosol droplets up to three feet, or one metre, in the air, according to a study published on 16 June in the journal Physics of Fluids.
Up to 60% of the particles reach above the toilet seat and these droplets can remain airborne for up to a minute, the researchers found.
The virus could then infect others who inhale the aerosols or come into contact with infected surfaces, such as by touching door handles or toilet seats where the droplets have landed.
“Fecal–oral transmission is a common transmission route for many viruses, including SARS-CoV-2,” read the study.
In the journal, the researchers noted that more attention needs to be paid to toilets as potential sources of infection.
“The flushing process can lift the virus out of the toilet and cause cross-infection among people,” said Ji-Xiang Wang, a physicist at Yangzhou University and co-author on the paper.
“According to the characteristics of faecal-oral transmission, there will be a large amount of viruses within a toilet when a confirmed case uses it. Thus, toilets should be regarded as one of the infection sources,” explained the researchers.