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Do public washrooms increase infection risk?

Whether at the theatre, school, restaurant, bar, mall, or sports facility, public washrooms can be highly used spaces. For the past couple of years, the pressing question is what is the risk of getting a COVID infection while using public restrooms? A new study uncovers findings in this field of research. Published by the journal Science of the Total Environment, the study explores the risk of bacterial and viral transmission in public washrooms. The study does suggests that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in such public spaces is a potential risk, but that this is an area that requires further research.

Published by the journal Science of the Total Environment, the study explores the risk of bacterial and viral transmission in public washrooms. The study does suggests that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in such public spaces is a potential risk, but that this is an area that requires further research.

Public washrooms can be small area with many viruses

Often, public restrooms have a high density of people in a small space. Restrooms can also be poorly ventilated. As a result, particles of SARS-CoV-2 from previous users may be airborne and inhaled by subsequent patrons.

Viruses in toilet stalls

Another potential point of contact with the virus occurs when going to the toilet. Here, the main risk is breathing in the air of a previous user who is carrying virus. Visitors may also run the risk of coming into contact with particles of contaminated feces or urine from previous users during or after flushing. This risk is especially prevalent when washrooms are heavily used and the intervals between visitors are very short.

The air in the toilet stall can also be contaminated by aerolized wastewater from sewer outlets, drains, spills, leaks, or improperly installed pipes. Flushing the toilet likewise swirls aerosols into the air, which may also contain particles of coronavirus.

Poor hand hygiene keeps the virus alive

Poor hand hygiene helps virus survive on hands for further transmission to the user themselves or to additional guests if it remains on surfaces. Properly washing and drying hands is important. Wet hands can better pick up microbes from next touched surfaces. .

SARS-Cov-2 can survive on a variety of surfaces such as plastic, stainless steel, glass, ceramics, wood, latex gloves, surgical masks, etc. It also remains viable for several days in feces and 3-4 days in urine. In addition, door handles and locks, faucets, toilet flushes, grab bars, switches, paper towel dispensers, toilet roll holders, and toilet seats are potential surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus. Good, thorough cleaning of restrooms is essential, especially at this time.

How can the risk of infection in public washrooms be reduced?

Advice for visitors to public restrooms:

1. Wear a face mask.

2. Place used toilet paper in the toilet bowl.

3. If there is a toilet lid, flip it down before flushing.

4. Wash your hands with soap and water and, if necessary, hand sanitizer.

5. Dry your hands after washing, preferably with disposable towels.

6. Throw all disposable towels into the waste bin.

7. Help children wash their hands.

8. Spend as little time as possible in the restroom.

9. If possible, keep the door open when entering or leaving the restroom.

Advice for facility managers

1. Add a disinfectant drip to the toilet bowl.

2. Encourage guests to practice hand hygiene.

3. When possible, restrict the movement of people and increase the amount of time between users.

4. Limit the choice of urinals in the men’s restroom.

5. Improve ventilation.

6. Increase cleaning frequency.

7. Make sure toilets and waste bins are regularly cleaned and emptied.

SanTRAL® Plus is the reliable washroom series

SanTRAL®  Plus offers you the complete public washroom package, with easy to clean materials and designs. From the waste bin to the toilet paper dispenser, and everything in between, OPHARDT Hygiene can help you elevate your washroom and help your guests stay safe. You can choose between classic colors such as Steel-Touch, Artic white, Midnight, as well as the premium colors Olso Blue, Slate Grey or Copper Rose. One key advantage of the new SanTRAL®  Plus line is that they can be configured as connected devices with all the benefits of digital monitoring if desired.

The special advantage: All devices are equipped with a smart device. This allows facility managers to benefit from a visual display of fill level and battery level when needed. Learn more here!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8192832/pdf/main.pdf

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