COVID-19 transmission risks associated with environmental contamination in workplace and public toilets

COVID-19 has raised numerous questions around how infrastructure contributes to the risk of infection.  Sanitation is a known risk for a number of infections (e.g. diarrheal diseases) and there is potentially a link with COVID-19. Transmission risk may result from aerosolisation of pathogens from toilets which then pose a direct inhalation/ingestion risk or a risk via contaminated surfaces. Studies have measured microoganisms in air and on surfaces from a sanitation source, but there is little assessment of the fluid dynamics mechanisms involved or the quantification of risk from air or surface exposure.  

This project will bring together experimental studies measuring particles and biological aerosols, computational fluid dynamics modelling of aerosol dispersion from toilets, and infection risk modelling to evaluate the design and user behaviour parameters that determine risk of transmission. The project will the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 as well as other pathogens, and will contribute to understanding of how sanitation systems and services contribute to risk of disease and  development of a robust risk assessment  approach. The project is one of two supported through an alumni donationthere will be opportunity to collaborate with the other project within the WATER-WISER CDT focusing on behavioural aspects of sanitation.