A row of urinals in a men's restroom

Contributed By Waterless Co., Inc.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that coronavirus can spread in an infected person's urine. Referred to as "viral shedding," this means if traces of contaminated urine become aerosolized and inhaled, the disease can infect others in the restroom.

The setting in which this is most likely to happen is around urinals.

"The reason it is such a problem around urinals is due to the flushing of a traditional urinal and 'splashback,'" says Klaus Reichardt, chief executive officer and founder of Waterless Co., Inc. 

To help prevent 'splashback' and protect health, Reichardt suggests building managers do the following:  

- Increase urinal cleaning frequencies and clean and disinfect surfaces near urinals.

- Block off every two urinals so there is more distance between urinal users.

- If possible, reduce water flow rates; this will help reduce the pressure of the flush.

- Have posters made encouraging men to urinate at a 90-degree angle.

"Urinating in the water (at the base of the urinal) causes the most splatter and aerosolization," says Reichardt.

- Gentleman might consider sitting instead of standing; the stream is five times faster when standing at a urinal than when sitting in a toilet.

- Install waterless urinals; because there is no flush of water, aerosolization is substantially eliminated.

- Use a paper towel to touch the flush handle.

- To foster social distancing, place distancing markers on the floor behind the urinals.

- Place mats under urinals to absorb splatter and change them frequently.

"In the past, the big problem with splashback is that if the pee puddles, for instance on floors, it breeds bacteria and is one of the reasons public restrooms can smell," says Reichardt. "But now that bacteria may include the pathogens that cause COVID. This makes splashback a much more serious problem that must be addressed."