Coronavirus: The Most Dangerous Public Place

In All Health Watch, Coronavirus, Featured Article, Health Warning

These days, risk assessment is a calculation all of us make every time we go out the front door.

Wherever we are headed, we think about the chances that we may be exposed to the coronavirus.

But not even experts can tell us with any certainty which public places are safe and which are not. A new study reveals one place you should absolutely avoid if you possibly can.

The research was published in the journal Physics of Fluids. Scientists  looked at whether the coronavirus could be easily spread in public restrooms.[1] [2]

They used computers to simulate “particle movement that occurs with the act of flushing.[3]

The researchers found that when a urinal or toilet flushes, it ejects a cloud of tiny particles which potentially carry coronavirus.[4]

Although both urinals and toilets send germ-laden vapor into the air, urinals actually emit it faster and farther, the study found. This means the men’s room may be more infectious than the ladies’ room.

“From our work, it can be inferred that urinal flushing indeed promotes the spread of bacteria and viruses,” said Dr. Xiangdong Liu. He is one of the study authors.

Mask wearing should be mandatory in public restrooms during the pandemic, Dr. Liu said.

Better design of urinals and toilets so they don’t release virus particles are “urgently needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Can’t Hold It? Do This.

Sometimes you gotta go. Here are four ways to make using a public restroom safer.

  • Mask up before you go in. This is stating the obvious. You should be wearing a mask in all public places.
  • Get in, get out. Don’t spend any more time than you need to inside a restroom.
  • Men should not use a urinal. Use a toilet stall instead.

  • Don’t use an air hand dryer. This is important.

The Best Way to Dry Your Hands to Stop Coronavirus

 Scientists at the University of Westminster examined three hand-drying options:

  • Paper towels.
  • Warm air dryers. These are the old fashioned blowers with a nozzle that shoots air downward onto your hands.
  • Jet dryers. These are the newer devices with a slot into which you place your hands. They shoot out air at 300 mph.

The researchers asked subjects to dip their gloved hands into a solution of a harmless virus. Then, after giving their hands a quick shake, they tried one of the three drying methods.

Finally, samples were collected from the air and surfaces at different distances from where the drying took place.

The verdict?

The jet blower is a germ-spewing machine.

It spread 1,300 times more microbes around the bathroom than paper towels. Some of the virus particles landed 10 feet away. Jet dryers were 60 times germier than regular warm air hand dryers.[5]

Researchers concluded that jet dryers not only put the person who is drying their hands at risk… They endanger others in the bathroom at the same time.

The scientists said warm air blowers are somewhat better because they push germs toward the floor. Paper towels are the best option.

Another study also found that air dryers are a bad option…

It was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Scientists brought plates into restrooms. They exposed some of the plates to 30 seconds of air blown from hand dryers. They let the other plates just sit on restroom counters for two minutes.[6]

The plates that sat out had on average fewer than one germ colony on them. The air-blasted plates had 18 to 60 colonies. That’s what you could also expect on your hands after using them.[7]

The researchers believe hand dryers act as germ “reservoirs.”

Dr. Peter Setlow led the plate study. He says he now uses paper towels to dry his hands.

Avoid public restrooms whenever possible while the pandemic rages on. But if you have to go, take these precautions to be as safe as possible.

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