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article imageCoronavirus: Should men mask up when using a urinal?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 5, 2020 in Health
When men use a urinal there is a high-degree of particle generation. If a person has the coronavirus, what is the risk to another individual? Does this mean segregation of urinals or the wearing of masks to reduce infection?
The use of public restrooms may well present an unsavoury topic, but in the time of coronavirus it is worth considering the extent of any viral transmission risks. Earlier Digital Journal looked at the humble toilet, noting that some members of the public have a number of poor hygiene habits when using the toilet. This includes spitting into the lavatory or flushing the device without covering the lid. Both of these activities can increase the risk of bacterial and viral infections.
Now our attention shifts to the urinal. Health professionals based at Yangzhou University in China have found that using urinals, based on computer simulations, leads to the production of clouds of virus-laden aerosols. This relates to when the urinal flushes.
The research finds that in this time of coronavirus, the use of urinals in public areas poses a public health challenge. For example, when urinals flush, particles of viral material can reach the thigh of the user within 5.5 seconds. This is far faster than a toilet flush where 35 seconds is required to reach a similar height. In addition, particles released into the air from urinals, show a more rapid climbing tendency, moving far faster than toilet flushing.
It is not only the speed and height of the particles that presents a health challenge, the number is also considerable. The use of computational fluid dynamics reveals that typical use of a urinal sees around 60 percent of the particles released into the air, moving away from the urinal.
In order to address what they have identified, the researchers are recommending that individuals wear a mask in public restrooms (especially men, in this context). In addition, the researchers propose that anti-diffusion measures are put in place in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The new research is published in the journal Physics of Fluids. The research is titled "Virus transmission from urinals."
More about coronavirus, Covid19, Urinal, Virus, Restroom
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