coronavirus, toilet flushing, open windows question

May 20, 2020
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Hi everyone

I would love your scientific viewpoints on this.

I'm trying to work out the level of risk of catching coronavirus in my apartment block. The actual apartments are sealed off from one another (apparently) though I always know when my neighbour downstairs has made toast! But I'm not worried about that, she's 85 and staying home for the whole of this crisis.

What I'm wondering about, is there's a window I long to open, especially now as it's getting hot, but to the left and right of it, about 3 - 4 metres away, are the bathroom windows of my neighbours. Not something that's ever bothered me before, but I know that when people flush toilets, any germs are aerosilised, so would fly out of their open sky light windows and maybe travel through my window. Maybe not a problem if I was nowhere near the window, but I'm a metre from it sat at a desk.

Of course all this is assuming a neighbour has the infection, but just wondering, would you have it open at a time like this? I have other windows but they don't seem to bring in the breeze as much as this one.

Also would you use a portable air conditioner during this pandemic. I imagine the concern there is for others rather than for myself as the air con extracts hot air into the street below. There are people walking by about 2 - 3 metres down. You cannot feel the hot air from the street at all, it disperses before then, but I'm thinking of viral particles (that's assuming there's infection in my home, I'm not ill but I don't want to add to this pandemic by pumping virus out of my windows, so just looking for considered scientific answers). Also wondering if the way air con operates it is swirling air around my apartment and therefore it may move germs about for me inside. I don't think my apartment is particularly well sealed off from my immediate neighbour. When he goes in and out of his front door he is literally standing in front of mine with only about a foot from him and the door. So I have assumed that my front door is a riskier area and I don't stand near it, etc, only go there if I'm going out or coming in. So I don't really want swirling air around my apartment if the risk is considered to be high right now.

If it's felt that either of these things carry significant risk then it's simple, I won't do them. I'll put up with it for as long as necessary, but I'm just wondering if I'm being a little bit ocd as other people don't seem to worry so much and they all have their windows open.

Thanks :)
 
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May 8, 2020
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I am very much like you! Some might call us crazy, but I like to think of us as prepared! I doubt that enough germs would survive from flushing a toilet and make it from their bathroom to yours. Your door, however, is a hot spot, in my opinion. I would avoid that door whenever you can. At my house, we have a "germ door" which we only use when we have to go out (once a month for groceries) and then we avoid it for 5 days, assuming that it's contaminated. Our back door is the one we use when we just want to go outside to let the dog out or to be in the backyard and get some sunlight!

Of course, at my house, we go even further than most. Even before COVID-19, we have always been very "germ-conscious". My fiance says he's not germaphobic, but germ-conscious. :) So, we have always come straight in, set our phones and keys down, and quarantined them for 48 hours (just for colds and flus!). Then we wash our hands (now the faucet handle is germy, perpetually), and we head straight to the shower. You have to turn the water on, then undress, and wash your hands. Clothes go straight in the hamper, etc. Anything we bring in the house has to quarantine for 2 days (5 with coronavirus around)... So, we take it extremely far. We don't eat out or touch our face in public. It may sound absurd, but we haven't had a cold or flu in 5 years. (Which can't be good for our immune systems... but he has to do it for his sanity. So I do, too).

All that being said, I would definitely be okay with opening the window and so would he. The door, though, I'd avoid! But it really is your decision because if you don't feel comfortable, then what's the point? :)
 
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May 20, 2020
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Thanks MMKV

I'm interested that your partner would be ok re the window open considering how careful he is. So is the thinking that anything that aerosilises will fall to the ground before it travels 2 metres? Here in the UK they tell us to stand 2 metres apart for that reason but I wondered with the force of the flush.

But then I suppose most particles would hit the walls and window before exiting, then they have at least 2 metres to fall, more likely it's 3.5. (I keep looking out of the window to try and work out the distance in the air, lol).

If we just had a flu pandemic, I'd have the window open without a second thought as I would imagine it's unlikely flu virus could travel that far and if it did, low probability that I would actually pick enough up on my hands via the desk as I wash them regularly anyway, and clean the desk regularly. Also I would think the fresh air would make my lungs healthier.

I love that you guys take all those measures just for colds and flu. At least you are not infecting others if you're that careful. I had a bad flu in January (still wondering if it was Covid as I knew it was a 'bad flu' and wondered at the time if I'd got H1N1 or something). I believe I caught it off my neighbour when we were talking in the communal garden (only a foot apart), he'd been ill for 2 weeks by then so of course I thought he just had a residual cough. It could have been covid. He saw me the other day in the street and said he's being careful but thinks that virus we had in Jan was Covid.

It might be worth mentioning to your partner that apart from the above, I hadn't had colds or flu for around 8 years. I didn't take any special measures although I am a hand washer when I get home, shoes off by the front door (not worn in the house) and I'm very conscious about not putting my fingers in my eyes, nose or mouth, but that's it. Mobile phone would get cleaned occasionally, but I must admit, if there was a nasty flu going around I would use an alcohol wipe on the phone.

Thanks for your thoughts and I welcome any further about the window, lol. I should say, my neighbour has to walk past that window as he goes downstairs, but I'm not worried there as I'd only want it open on my work from home days, so he would be out at work then anyway.
 
May 8, 2020
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In the US, it‘s 6 feet. I’m not sure the conversion, but it is probably close to 2 meters. His thinking is that the chances of the particles making their way from your neighbor‘s toilet out his window and into yours are too slim to be concerned. (I just asked him to be sure!) But again, he’s definitely not a scientist. All of his ways are based on his own research and logic. It’s kind of like what you were saying about if it were the flu... and how the probability would be low.
 
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May 20, 2020
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MMKV, thanks. You can tell him I've got the window open, it's night time now and there is lovely cool air coming in :giggle:
 
Apr 7, 2020
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anyone? even if you don't know, opinions are welcome...
The scientific answer to this kind of question is not likely to come by. Who would want to play with the virus? The answer has to be based on logic and imagination. I would think that some viruses would come through your window from the neighbor's toilet if he is infected. This would depend on which way the wind blows. If there is no wind you probably will get some virus. If you ever smelled any toilet odor coming in, it would be a sure sign. If you have a co-operative neighbor you can give him some incense sticks to burn or some aromatic substance like peppermint oil to put in his toilet and see if you can smell any of these. If you smell it, it is a sure thing. If you don't smell it is uncertain because of the wind issue. From study of worldwide infection reports and some scientific papers and virus histories, I am certain that coronavirus spreads by air. The 6 feet distance and handwashing will not stop the virus.
 
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Apr 7, 2020
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The scientific answer to this kind of question is not likely to come by. Who would want to play with the virus? The answer has to be based on logic and imagination. I would think that some viruses would come through your window from the neighbor's toilet if he is infected. This would depend on which way the wind blows. If there is no wind you probably will get some virus. If you ever smelled any toilet odor coming in, it would be a sure sign. If you have a co-operative neighbor you can give him some incense sticks to burn or some aromatic substance like peppermint oil to put in his toilet and see if you can smell any of these. If you smell it, it is a sure thing. If you don't smell it is uncertain because of the wind issue. From study of worldwide infection reports and some scientific papers and virus histories, I am certain that coronavirus spreads by air. The 6 feet distance and handwashing will not stop the virus.
 
May 20, 2020
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Thanks harpat949

I have wondered about this. The 'safer' window overlooks the street and anyone walking by would be 3 metres down and I think the probability of them having coronavirus, then coughing, the droplets going against gravity, then navigating into my window, then crossing over the room to the other side where I sit, is probably low :-D

I have put up another post. Its about using air con. The thing is it's now too hot NOT to have windows open, and even with them my apartment is really unbearable to be in to work. And I work here a few days a week.

Also having all the windows open seems to be bringing in loads of noise. But I've had labyrinthitis in the last week so it might be that.

If I have air con on it will vent out of the front window, with the street below. People are 3 metres down, not many walk along there. You cannot feel or hear the vent from the street which I think must be a good thing. But I'm not sure if viral particles would safely disperse in that situation, coming out of the vent. I don't have symptoms. So I don't think I'd be 'venting' stuff out of my window, but I don't feel I can use it until I know for sure. Especially as it may also impact me, I don't know. It does tend to trigger a little bit of asthma the first time I put it on in summer but then my lungs adjust, so clearly it affects the lungs and I don't want to affect them too much at a time like this (even though normally it's not a problem and I wouldn't even think about it if it wasn't for the pandemic).

Thanks for your reply :)
 
Apr 7, 2020
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I suggest you try the perfume/incense method to see if the air is going from the street level into your window. The smoke from the incense stick will follow the air currents and give you a visual indication of what is happening. The perfume method would likely be more accurate as there would be less gravity effect.
If the wind conditions are constantly changing, you will have to try it many times.
 

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