Concerns Mount about Dry Floor Drains Spreading COVID-19

June 3, 2020

The Lancet, one of the U.Ks most respected medical journal has reported concerns that COVID-19 can spread via plumbing systems in both homes and commercial facilities. *
"By [their] very design, plumbing systems are a harbinger of pathogenic microorganisms which, under some circumstances, have the potential to enable airborne transmission of viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2), which [also] causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19)."
The primary way this happens, according to Klaus Reichardt, CEO and Founder of Waterless Co., Inc. "is that contaminated air drifts from dried out drainpipes carrying droplets of the virus."
This has become more of an issue recently because so many buildings have been closed for more than 30 days. 
"What happens is the P-traps under drains evaporates. When it does, this opens the door for odors, insects, and fumes to be released into the facility."
The problem is exacerbated in some commercial building restrooms because HVAC systems are designed to extract air from the restroom. 
"This draws contaminated air into the room," which is inhaled by restroom users, according to the Lancet report.
To help address this problem, the report suggests the following:
  • Do not ignore unexplained foul odors in buildings
  • Open the tap on all water-using fixtures "at least once per day paying special attention to floor drains
  • If a drain or a wastewater pipe appears to be disconnected or cracked, seal it immediately
  • Regularly inspect drains and pipes used to remove wastewater
With so many buildings still closed, having someone pour water into all water-using fixtures may not be possible. Nor is it necessary, adds Reichardt. "A few ounces of an 'every prime' sealant will replenish the water in P-traps and should last for months."
Most important, The Lancet report concludes, to help us fight this disease, we must realize there is “the potential for airborne transmission of the virus [through] plumbing systems,” acknowledging it as “a potential transmission pathway for COVID-19."
* "COVID-19: mitigating transmission via wastewater plumbing systems," by Michael Gormley, Thomas J Aspray, and David A Kelly, The Lancet, March 23, 2020
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