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Covid-19 Public Washroom Redesign – businesses are trying to limit traffic, maintain social distancing whenever possible, and encourage hand-washing while confronting two problematic features of the modern public restroom: the lidless toilet and the forced-air hand dryer.
Research has also discovered, that even though hospitals were able to prevent the spread of the virus beyond a patient’s room, a high concentration of viral particles remained in air samples from patient toilets.
Flushing the toilet forces viral particles into the air, which can remain airborne for up to three hours. Closing the lid before flushing can help contain those particles.
Public urinals could be a thing of the past in a post-Covid society as industry leaders recommend men use stalls when they return to work
The urinal, which was invented in 1866, is a more challenging problem as it is open. It is expected that a new setup will be used larger public restrooms to reduce by half the number of available urinals.
Over time, all urinals will likely have larger dividers. There will also be more touchless urinals and toilets, eliminating the need for a manual flush, and more frequent restroom cleaning and sanitizing.
Businesses with multiple-sink restrooms will also shut down some sinks in an effort to maintain social distancing.
The British Toilet Associations is advising companies on how to keep washrooms clean and safe as lockdown restrictions are eased.
One of the most substantial proposed changes is the elimination of separate toilets for men and women.
Instead, one-way gender-neutral facilities could see men and women queuing at one door and exiting on the other side with individual cubicles in between.
Researchers at the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University (link) in 2018, confirmed suspicions that hot-air hand dryers inhale bacteria from the air and deposit them on you freshly washed hands.
In the research, Petri dishes exposed to bathroom air for two minutes, hand dryers off, grew no more than one colony of bacteria. Petri dishes exposed to hot hand-dryer air for 30 seconds grew up to 254 colonies of bacteria.
The use of touchless paper-towel dispensers is now recommended. As well as using the paper towel to dry your hand, use a fresh paper towel on your way out to open up the restroom door. The paper towel then can be dropped into the nearest rubbish bin.
Public health experts, designers and architects say the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed fundamental flaws in the design of public toilets that risk spreading a second wave of coronavirus, and possibly even new pandemics.
Infection control and protections should be as vital to bathroom design as fire safety.
At the moment public washrooms are full of high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, toilet handles and seats, faucets, and paper towel dispensers. This is on top of the problem that flushing is ejecting particles into the air.
The pandemic has sparked calls for the introduction of building codes and design innovation for all future structures to comply with infection control measures, with greater input from disease specialists in construction projects that often see the design stage as a chance for cost cutting.
Various authorities have acknowledged the shortcomings of conventional public toilet design, and recommend that significant and visible hygiene improvements to are made to public washrooms
Bathroom designers and health experts will investigate the use of a public toilet and introduce solutions to reduce touch.
The new measures will be costly but they will save money in the long term.
These are some of improvements that are planned to improve the infection control in washrooms.
– Taps that you activate by sensor
– Flushes with sensors
– Foot flushing
– Sensor activated soap dispensers
– Use copper rather than stainless steel as it is more antiviral
– Self-cleaning toilets that sanitise the cubicle when a door is shut
– Doors to public toilets should be designed to minimise the risk of touching a door surface
– Make soap dispensers transparent so users can see how much soap is inside
– Self-closing seats
– The presence of an attendant
– Using hand sanitiser after exiting a bathroom
– Replacing the rows of urinals with shared toilets for male and female cabins
– One-way foot traffic flows
– Guides to maintain social distancing
The long-term solution could see a single-stall, gender-neutral, full-enclosed water closets with sinks available outside the area that houses the toilet.