Main content area

A pilot study on the disinfection efficacy of localized UV on the flushing-generated spread of pathogens

Lai, A.C.K., Nunayon, S.S., Tan, T.F., Li, W.S.
Journal of hazardous materials 2018 v.358 pp. 389-396
Escherichia coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, Staphylococcus epidermidis, aerosols, bacteria, disinfection, droplets, emissions, guidelines, humans, irradiation, ozone, pathogens, ultraviolet radiation
The process of toilet-flushing can generate flushing-associated water droplets which can potentially expose humans to pathogen-laden aerosols. Very little is known about such aerosol dissemination or the means for minimizing exposure to these aerosols. This study has evaluated the efficacy of ultraviolet waveband C (UV-C) for disinfection of flushing-generated pathogen-laden aerosols through tests with localized disinfection systems for airborne and surface contaminations. Three types of bacteria were chosen for investigation: Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella typhimurium. Tests were conducted with UV-C tubes of 5 W and 10 W. High levels of disinfection efficacies were observed, ranging from 76% to 97% for bacteria-laden aerosols at sources of emission, and efficiencies of 53% to 79% for surface samples in localized systems. The results from the localized systems were further compared with those obtained with an upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) system. As it is important to note, the UV-C doses and ozone emissions for the localized systems were found well below the limits recommended in current guidelines. This research has shown that the disinfection of flushing-generated pathogen-laden aerosols in proximity to the source of emission was more effective than at the more distant sites where aerosols may be dispersed to the environment.