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Lifting the lid on toilet plume aerosol: a literature review with suggestions for future research.
Johnson-DL; Mead-KR; Lynch-RA; Hirst-DVL
Am J Infect Control 2013 Mar; 41(3):254-258
BACKGROUND: The potential risks associated with "toilet plume" aerosols produced by flush toilets is a subject of continuing study. This review examines the evidence regarding toilet plume bioaerosol generation and infectious disease transmission. METHODS: The peer-reviewed scientific literature was searched to identify articles related to aerosol production during toilet flushing, as well as epidemiologic studies examining the potential role of toilets in infectious disease outbreaks. RESULTS: The studies demonstrate that potentially infectious aerosols may be produced in substantial quantities during flushing. Aerosolization can continue through multiple flushes to expose subsequent toilet users. Some of the aerosols desiccate to become droplet nuclei and remain adrift in the air currents. However, no studies have yet clearly demonstrated or refuted toilet plume-related disease transmission, and the significance of the risk remains largely uncharacterized. CONCLUSION: Research suggests that toilet plume could play a contributory role in the transmission of infectious diseases. Additional research in multiple areas is warranted to assess the risks posed by toilet plume, especially within health care facilities.
Aerosols; Epidemiology; Infectious-diseases; Exposure-levels; Air-quality; Risk-factors; Health-care-facilities; Author Keywords: Aerosol; Droplet nuclei; Airborne infection; Bioaerosol
David L. Johnson, PhD, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Oklahoma College of Public Health, P.O. Box 26901, Room 431, Oklahoma City, OK 73126-0901
Issue of Publication
American Journal of Infection Control
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division