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Aerosol generation in public restrooms

Aerosolized droplets play a central role in the transmission of various infectious diseases, including Legionnaire’s disease, gastroenteritis-causing norovirus, and most recently COVID-19. Respiratory droplets are known to be the most prominent source of transmission for COVID-19, however, alternative routes may exist given the discovery of small numbers of viable viruses in urine and stool samples. Flushing biomatter can lead to the aerosolization of microorganisms, thus, there is a likelihood that bioaerosols generated in public restrooms may pose a concern for the transmission of COVID-19, especially since these areas are relatively confined, experience heavy foot traffic, and may suffer from inadequate ventilation. To quantify the extent of aerosolization, we measure the size and number of droplets generated by flushing toilets and urinals in a public restroom. The results indicate that the particular designs tested in the study generate a large number of droplets in the size range 0.3µm to 3µm, which can reach heights of at least 1.52m. Covering the toilet reduced aerosol levels but did not eliminate them completely, suggesting that aerosolized droplets escaped through small gaps between the cover and the seat. In addition to consistent increases in aerosol levels immediately after flushing, there was a notable rise in ambient aerosol levels due to the accumulation of droplets from multiple flushes conducted during the tests. This highlights the need for incorporating adequate ventilation in the design and operation of public spaces, which can help prevent aerosol accumulation in high occupancy areas and mitigate the risk of airborne disease transmission

Aerosol generation on public restrooms.  Jesse H. Schreck, Masoud Jahandar Lashaki, Javad Hashemi, Manhar Dhanak, Siddhartha Verma https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.11990

Author: Jesse H. Schreck, 1 Jesse H. Schreck, Masoud Jahandar Lashaki, Javad Hashemi, Manhar Dhanak, Siddhartha Verma

Published: 31/01/2021

Publication Type: Journal article