Coronavirus may travel through toilet and pipes: study

The novel coronavirus may spread throughout buildings through toilets and drainpipes, according to a published report in the journal Environmental International.

The virus was detected on surfaces of sinks, faucets, and shower handles in a bathroom in a 16th floor vacant apartment which was located right above an apartment unit where five people infected with coronavirus lived, according to the report that cited the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study authors performed a simulation tracing aerosols in the apartment building to see if plumbing could be the source since reports have stated that novel coronavirus can be found in feces.

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“The possibility of aerosol transport through sewage pipe after flushing the toilet at the 15th-floor restroom was confirmed by an onsite tracer simulation experiment showing that aerosols were found in the restroom of apartments on the 25th floor and 27th floor,” the study authors stated in the published report.

The study authors performed a simulation tracing aerosols in the apartment building to see if plumbing could be the source since reports have stated that novel coronavirus can be found in feces. (iStock)

Transmission through the shared elevator could not be ruled out, according to the researchers. In their report, they referred to a case in 2003 during the SARS outbreak when Hong Kong residents in the Amoy Gardens private apartment building were infected by SARS.

An old report stated that faulty sewage pipes were responsible for sending virus-containing aerosols throughout the system in that outbreak.

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“High concentrations of viral aerosols in building plumbing were drawn into apartment bathrooms through floor drains. The initial exposures occurred in these bathrooms. The virus-laden air was then transported by prevailing winds to adjacent buildings at Amoy Gardens, where additional exposures occurred,” the old report stated. More than 300 of those apartment residents were infected by SARS.

Recent reports have surfaced exploring the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through urinals and toilets. The findings revealed aerosol particles were released in a cloud, potentially putting a person at risk.