Why You Might Want to Keep Your Mask On in Public Restrooms

Face masks. By now we’re all familiar with them, but their effectiveness in stopping the spread of COVID-19 is still a topic of discussion. As we gather more information about the virus’s ability to spread from person to person and surfaces, new research has shown that using public restrooms without a face mask might pose a significant risk in transmitting the virus. In this article, you’ll learn more about how COVID-19 can spread in public restrooms, ways to protect yourself, and increase overall hygiene.

Toilet plumes with virus-laden aerosols

Researchers from Yangzhou University in China recently discovered that flushing public restroom toilets and urinals can release clouds of virus-laden aerosols – tiny droplets created when gas and liquid interact – that people could potentially inhale. The research began with the understanding that transmission of the virus through feces and urine was possible. By using computational fluid dynamics to model the particle movement that occurs when flushing, the researchers aimed to simulate and track the spread of aerosol particles.

The dangers of using public restrooms

The study found that more than 57% of particles travel away from the urinal when flushed, some of them carrying the coronavirus with them. When men use a urinal, these tiny particles can reach their thighs in just 5.5 seconds. Particles from flushed toilets reach that level in around 35 seconds. The research also indicated that urinals have a more violent climbing tendency, which means particles diffuse faster and farther when compared to toilet flushing.

How to protect yourself in public restrooms

Given the risk of aerosol spread in restrooms, the researchers recommended that wearing a mask should be mandatory in public restrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, they urged that improvements be made in restrooms to prevent aerosol diffusion and limit the virus’s spread.

To minimize your risk of infection, always wear a mask when using a public restroom and practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using warm water and soap, and avoid touching surfaces directly as much as possible. Dry your hands using a disposable paper towel or hand dryer.

Don’t forget about your home restroom

While the focus of this study was on public restrooms, it’s essential not to forget about taking similar precautions when using the restroom at home. Any toilet can harbor coronavirus particles if an infected person, even an asymptomatic one, uses it. A simple yet effective way to avoid the toilet plume at home is closing the lid before flushing.

The bottom line

As we continue to learn more about how COVID-19 spreads, it’s vital to remain informed about potential risks and take necessary precautions to protect ourselves and others. Wearing a mask, practicing good hygiene, and making small changes like closing toilet lids before flushing can go a long way in minimizing the spread of the virus.

Public restrooms have been recognized as an additional point of risk when it comes to the transmission of COVID-19. Make sure to wear a mask when using public restrooms and practice good hand hygiene to protect yourself and others.


Using a public restroom? Mask up! — EurekAlert!(https://www.eurekalert.org/pub\_releases/2020-07/aiop-uap073120.php)

Closing the lid before you flush may help lessen spreading of coronavirus. But if you forget, don’t panic. — ABC News(https://abcnews.go.com/US/closing-lid-flushlessen-spreading-coronavirus-forget-dont-panic/story?id=72029603)