Tag Archives: bathrooms

The recent—and ongoing—COVID-19 pandemic has made the public keenly aware of the dangers of aerosol transmission of viruses and bacteria, but recent studies has found another potential transmission culprit: public toilets.

Researchers from Sun Yat-Sen University tested fecal samples from COVID-19 patients and found that some had potential to pass the virus along, because the virus attached itself to receptors in the intestines as opposed to the lungs.

So, the virus could be passed along via fecal-oral transmission. That means toilet flushing with the virus present in it could cause droplets to be inhaled because of the turbulent spray produced by flushing. What’s more, previous research found that the SARS virus and MERS can be transmitted the same way—flushing toilets produces a fine mist spray in the surrounding atmosphere and those virus-laden droplets become aerosolized, as well as landing on surfaces in common areas.

According to an article in the New York Times, the plume produced when flushing a toilet can rise three feet in the air, based on findings published in the journal Physics of Fluids. A research team found that flushing can force up to 60 percent of the aerosols high above the toilet seat. So, there are also increased dangers by touching surfaces, like doorknobs or handles and fixtures.

“The flushing process can lift the virus out of the toilet and cause cross-infection among people,” says Ji-Xiang Wang, a physicist and coauthor of a research paper published in the journal. What’s more, Computational Fluid Dynamics studies on the disruption of airflow during flushing of toilets shows that the pressure and suction of toilet flushing actually kicks up the air around toilets, furthering droplet spread. A Computational Fluid Dynamics study uses computer-generated models to simulate the flow of fluids—in this case, the airflow with fecal spray—to determine direction and force of transmission.

There’s an additional hazard. Many communal bathroom environments lack toilet seat lids that could be shut to prevent the spray and aerosolization of virus droplets. Further, auto-flushing toilets tend to produce a larger volume of water, which causes additional spray.

The hazards continue: public restroom hand dryers have been proven to keep droplets, bacteria, allergens and viruses suspended in the air, given that the force of air produced by the dryers isn’t localized.

Instead, the very act of placing hands under a hand dryer redirects airflow. So, things in the air tend to move more with hand dryers present. And that makes for a very problematic environment, with indoor air quality severely compromised.

All these issues add up to make the spread of deadly viruses a real threat in public places.

While an infected person is typically quarantined, with their bathroom use confined to the home, the same isn’t true for someone who has the virus but is asymptomatic—meaning they carry the virus, are infectious, but don’t exhibit any signs of being sick. So, they may go about daily routines, unaware of the deadly virus they are transmitting in public places.

There is, however, an effective way to combat aerosol transmission of viruses, bacteria and other airborne contaminants. By installing AeraMax Professional air purifiers, facility managers and building owners can effectively remove up to 99.97 percent of contaminants in enclosed spaces. These commercial-grade air purifiers use a four-stage filtration system with True HEPA filtration to effectively and efficiently remove the contaminants, automatically.

Best yet, these units employ patented EnviroSmart™ Technology that senses sound, motion and odors in a room, automatically adjusting to optimize performance. That way, the units work when they have to…conserving energy and maximizing operations while providing air exchanges. The system is truly “set it and forget it,” with the units working tirelessly in the background to improve the lives and health of occupants during this pandemic and into the future.


Fancy hand dryers can spread germs around your facility

So you walk into a public restroom, impressed with the contemporary décor. Gleaming surfaces. Ultra-modern fixtures. Chrome everywhere. Then you see the futuristic hand dryer, one unlike the typical nozzle-and-push-button machines from the industrial 1950s. There’s no button. No nozzle. You simply thrust your hands into an empty space in a sleek, wall-mounted box, where a high-powered blast of air surrounds your mitts. And that’s where the trouble begins.

That’s because these new jet air dryers can actually spread more germs farther than conventional dryers or paper towels. So, they may look cool, but can potentially do more harm.

According to a study that was recently reported in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, the jet air dryers launch more germs into the atmosphere farther and those germs linger for longer periods of time.

The Study

In a controlled environment, researchers applied a virus called MS2 on their hands, then used paper towels, a conventional hand dryer and a jet dryer to dry their hands. For testing purposes, the amount of MS2 applied was equal to the amount someone might have on their hands if they were stricken with the norovirus and didn’t wash properly.

Researchers then tested the air in the enclosed room, capturing the virus on plates covered with a thin coating of E. Coli. MS2 kills E. Coli, so by seeing if the E. Coli was dead on plates scattered around the room, researchers could determine the reach and range of germ spread. The researchers also set up different heights for the plates, in order to see how high germ spread would be during the test.

The Result

The jet air dryer produced 60 times more virus than the conventional air dryer and 1,300 times more than paper towels. Based on the height of virus transmission, the jet air dryer produced 70% of their germ spread at the height of a typical child’s face.

Most shocking was the distance of spread. The dryer spread germs 500 times farther than the warm air dryer and lingered in the air for a full 15 minutes.

But won’t viruses already be eliminated once you get to the hand drying stage anyway? Consider this: experts say a proper hand washing means taking the time it takes to slowly sing the “happy birthday” song twice (25 to 30 seconds). Clearly, many people don’t do this.

The Solution

There is a solution, though. AeraMax® Professional air purifiers not only eliminate odors in bathroom settings, but germs and viruses too. So, regardless of whether a bathroom is outfitted with fancy jet dryers, convention warm air dryers or good old paper towels, AeraMax Professional can remove up to 99.9% of contaminants – including viruses – from the air.