October 24, 2020

Toilets are places of risk for the contagion of many diseases, also Covid-19, and the more public, the worse



It may not be the most ‘pleasant’ article you have read, but we need to understand, Let’s learn and internalize lessons from everyday life that can help us prevent coronavirus … and many other diseases that have not ceased to exist, although we hardly talk about them.

If any of these lines that we have tried to smooth without misleading, gives you a little disgusting, do not stop reading. Because maybe that will helps change some habits and take fewer risks contagion, which is what we intend with this descriptive article.

Some behaviors of the past are extremely repulsive to us.

Imagine that you go back 2,000 years in time, you come to a city of the Roman Empire and you feel the need to make “major waters”.

There were public toilets without any privacy. Long rows of seats similar to today’s toilets, where feces fell into a constant stream of water that carried them away from the city. An extraordinary example of the great capacity of the Romans for sanitation engineering. People flocked to these baths and presumably chatted animatedly in the meantime.

Finished the matter there were sponges, tied to a stick, to clean. You took the sponge and cleaned yourself. Then he would put it back on the little shelf where it was found. He was supposed to wash it well before. Because those sponges were public and were shared by the different users of the service.

Undoubtedly, today no one would clean themselves with a sponge that many others used before.

We have come a long way since then.

Nowadays we shut ourselves up in a private bathroom. When we finish we clean ourselves with paper. And we flush the chain. The water comes out at high speed from a cistern and carries the waste away. A magnificent example of sanitation.

But statistics indicate that most people don’t lower the toilet seat while pulling the chain.

The water in the cistern, running down so fast, produces a powerful spray. Millions of drops are released. They have a lot of energy and reach a considerable height. Meanwhile we breathe. Without realizing it, we inhale thousands of these droplets.

The downside is that they are not just water. Many of them have been found to carry small pieces of fecal matter. Said clearly: When we flush the toilet without lowering the lid, we put tiny pieces of feces into our respiratory system.

On many occasions we are not the only ones to use the bathroom. How many use the toilet in the bar where they drink beers, or the bathrooms in a public place such as a college or university, or the workplace? They are not usually so hygienically clean that we do not breathe in fecal matter from others.

But we don’t just use the toilets to “make bigger waters”. We also urinate. And we men like to urinate standing up. Our jet also produces a powerful spray that generates millions of microdroplets of urine that we breathe in without realizing it.

Anyway, let’s not continue there. But it is worth remembering that feces contain countless bacteria, while urine does not.

The Covid-19 pandemic is making us more aware of the many unhygienic behaviors that we engage in on a daily basis and that we have never noticed before.

We like to huddle at bars. We enjoyed their hustle and bustle. There is a lot of background noise. We all speak at the same time. And we speak loudly, to make ourselves heard. We like the bartender to be friendly and talkative. You make us happy with your comments, your jokes or your gossip. We discuss soccer or politics. Anyway, the important thing is to talk. And most of the time, we raise our voices.

When we speak, we generate thousands of droplets of saliva. And the louder we speak, the more droplets we generate.

The biggest ones fall fast. They reach our beers, our wines, our soft drinks … They cover the tapas and the food plates. So much so that on the counter of a crowded bar and without masks (as it was before, and still is today in many places) everything is dusted with a thin layer of saliva from waiters and customers, that you can already imagine where they end up. And that they are there, even if you do not see them fly or deposit.

The smallest droplets do not fall as close, and remain floating in the environment.

And what about them? Well, it is quite common that by staying in the air we end up breathing them. Because when the weather is unpleasant outside, the interior of the bar is warm and friendly. We scold those who leave the door open. The same when the heat is on and we take refuge in the freshness of its interior.

Consequently, it is not ventilated enough. The saliva droplets cannot come out. They keep floating for a while … until we end up breathing them.

Dr. Cristian Drosten, the main person in charge of the fight against Covid-19 in Germany and one of those who is most accurately managing the pandemic in the world, has been very clear. To avoid catching the coronavirus, he ensures that he never enters a restaurant or bar. He keeps going to them, but always outside, on a well-ventilated terrace with few people.

Bars, restaurants, clubs and other similar venues have unfortunately been key in the spread of Covid-19. Like house parties and any activity that involves a gathering of many people, noise, closeness …

They are places where we share much more than beers, wines, tapas, rations, laughter, loud conversations or dances. Within them we maintain much more intimacy with other people than we imagine.

If you’re lucky, nothing happens. But often it does. And the moment is not to turn a deaf ear, no matter how much we all are.

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