Flip ‘n’ flush (consumer)
While we’ve all got really good at washing our hands of late, there are some extra precautions we can take to help stop the spread of germs and disease. With our understanding of coronavirus transmission growing, we are now being urged to flip ‘n’ flush when it comes to using the toilet.
The body for the plumbing and heating industry, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), is advising everyone to flip down the toilet seat before they flush, to help stop the spread of coronavirus, germs and other nasties spread by ‘toilet plume.’
Toilet plume arises when lavatories are flushed. Turbulence from the toilet bowl can enable tiny droplets and aerosol particles to be released into the air.
It had been generally accepted that while there was a small risk of transmission of illnesses, for the healthy and those with good hygiene, it would pose few problems. Then Coronavirus struck.
According to current evidence, coronavirus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes. Airborne transmission is possible via aerosols. With some coronavirus patients experiencing symptoms including diarrhoea and vomiting, it’s been discovered the virus survives in the digestive tract, making faecal–oral transmission also possible.
Additionally new research by Yun-yun Li, Ji-Xiang Wang and Xi Chen warns that 40-60% of toilet plume particles can reach to a height of 106.5 cmabove the ground - well in excess of the height of a toilet seat - enabling the spread of particles on nearby surfaces. During computer simulations, particles could also stay suspended in the air long enough to be breathed in post-flushing.
This has big implications both in the home, where family bathrooms are also used for activities such as teeth brushing, and public lavatories, where multiple users can come into contact with airborne particles and contaminated surfaces.
CEO of the CIPHE, Kevin Wellman said, “While this latest research still needs to be proven in real life situations, we should take all the measures available to help stop the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses such as staphylococcus and E. coli.
“Simply closing the lid when flushing the toilet can remove any associated danger of toilet plume. Needless to say, this should always be backed up by vigorous hand washing routine. For those wanting to be ultra careful, cleaning the toilet seat before you use it can also reduce the risk.”
Find out more about the flip ‘n’ flush campaign at www.ciphe.org.uk/flipflush
Notes to editors:
Can a toilet promote virus transmission? From a fluid dynamics perspectiveby Yun-yun Li, Ji-Xiang Wang and Xi Chen, can be read in full at https://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/5.0013318