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Old 08-31-2020, 09:27 AM   #1
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2017 23' International
Santa Monica , California
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COVID and Sewage / Dumping

Hi Airforums. We're about to embark upon our first trip since March and have been thinking about the COVID risk. We'll use our own facilities and food and stay socially distant 100% of the time, but was reading a few articles lately about sewage:

University of Arizona using sewage samples to find COVID

Coronavirus in vacant apartment implicates toilet in spread

Extrapolating this to RVs, I'm going to work under the idea that RV park sewers have some amount of COVID present. There are a few ways I could think of where that might become an issue.

- If you keep the sewer hose connected to your coach, thereby creating a channel for fumes into your tanks. We never do this anyway but many others do.

- Removing/replacing the 'cap' on most of the dump stations.

- The end of your hose that will come into contact with the dump station.

- The air in and around the dump station while the cap is off and you are dumping.

I can think of a few mitigations for the above, as indicated not keeping the sewer hose connected is an easy first one. Making sure a mask is on during dumping, preferably an N95. Using gloves and removing them carefully. Possibly hosing off the sewer area (from a reasonable distance) upon arrival.

Curious if any of you have thought about this or have other ideas to mitigate or reduce this risk.
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Old 08-31-2020, 10:11 AM   #2
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I always spray the sewer cap and ring around the connection pipe along with my connector with a water/bleach mixture. Also spray the fresh water hook-up faucet at the campsite.

Does not help with any potential aerosol that may emit from the sewer but hopefully the N95 mask will mitigate the potential for spread.
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Old 08-31-2020, 10:52 AM   #3
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I think if you're really that worried about catching Conora virus from dumping your holding tanks, you should probably stay home. Seriously. By the time you analyze every possible way you can maybe catch this, you will have taken over 100% of the fun out of going anywhere, and removed the joy of "getting out".
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Old 08-31-2020, 10:58 AM   #4
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Thereís a lot worse stuff than Covid In there!
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Old 08-31-2020, 11:17 AM   #5
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Ditto posts #3 and #4. Just wear gloves, dump your tanks, finish with a little hand sanitizer. You'll be fine.
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Old 08-31-2020, 11:32 AM   #6
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When handling waste water, I'd definitely wear a mask in addition to the usual precautions.

After being forced to touch common surfaces such as fuel pumps, electronic screens and keypads that require touch input, door handles, faucet handles, and so on, I'd also be very careful to thoroughly wash and/or disinfect my hands before touching anything else in my tow vehicle, my trailer, my van, whatever.

I agree that if my personal risk assessment meter went into the red when thinking about this matrix of cautions that should be taken, I would just stay home a while longer...which is exactly what I've been doing so far.
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Old 08-31-2020, 11:34 AM   #7
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I wear a mask and gloves, and keep the both valves closed while parked, just draining when necessary

There is evidence that microdroplets (aerosols) containing the virus can hang in the air for a couple of hours similar to well known characteristics of highly contagious measles. So certainly the air venting back out around the dump station could contain bad ****.

Face shield probably not a bad idea, and easy enough to do. I used a mask and gloves pre-Covid too so no special change for me.

I often carry, and practice, I guess some folks would say if you feel the need to carry you should just stay home LOL.
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Old 08-31-2020, 11:51 AM   #8
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I'd echo sheriff1's point. There's plenty more bad stuff including in and around the sewer area that this topic certainly deserves one's attention. To say that one should stay home is cavalier and complacent, but your prerogative if you don't think the many really nasty diseases, including hepatitis, is not worthwhile to protect against. Unlike other bugs, this stuff doesn't make you stronger with more exposure.

Some practices I use
- Use disposable gloves. Non-disposable gloves and then storing in the bumper...that's like reaching into a festering biohazard that proliferates contamination
- If one is storing the dump tube in the bumper, everything else including awning pole, blocks, etc. in there should be treated as biohazard. Perhaps consider installing a under tube storage dedicated to waste related items
- Masks and spray bleach is an excellent recommendation
- Careful handling to minimize water droplet spray
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Old 08-31-2020, 02:59 PM   #9
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It's highly unlikely you will catch COVID from a dump station or sewer connection at a site if you wash your hands after handling those items. This is like a struck by lightening level risk.
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:46 AM   #10
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Not worried at all. I wear gloves when dump, rinse off hose and attachment and throw away gloves. No mask. I drove XC NH to OR in June & July, stayed in parts, dumped daily, no illness. I trust my immune system and have only worn a mask a few times since March - walking to tables in restaurant, that's it. If you have co-morbidities or are over 70, then extra precautions are warranted, otherwise agree with comments, can't live in fear if going to travel. Go explore it was fantastic. This is our first time rv-ing, we just bought ours in May, so it was a learning experience but don't we are hooked, happy and healthy! Safe travels.
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Old 09-01-2020, 10:02 AM   #11
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No documented cases of catching Covid-19 from an RV dump station or hook-up that I could find in an internet search.

Thereís worse things to worry about from the RV dump stations than that. Standard precautions apply.

Donít fret over this one. Be more concerned about your trips to the market, restaurants and visitor centers.
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Old 09-01-2020, 10:21 AM   #12
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With my background in bacteriology and dentistry, I have always cleaned public use areas before I use them. I do as mentioned above by several people plus I keep OR shoe covers with my disposable gloves and disinfectant so that I am not transferring coloform bacteria and other crud into the truck. (I don't wear my shoes into the house, either, for the same reason.) With that being said, a good immune system is the best defense. Go out and live!! I would rather die than live in fear.
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Old 09-01-2020, 11:55 AM   #13
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Cindy_D added shoe covers to the common suggestions of an N95 or KN95 face mask and disposable gloves. Those are reasonable precautions for dumping operations. As mentioned, there are lots of other nasties that would be in that area.

I spent my last 25 years of employment as an ESH Manager and writing, using and teaching risk assessment was part of my work. so, evaluating the hazards, the ppe that is useful and the residual risk is the approach to assess the situation.

Opening a dump cover will not release swarms of vapors unless there is some back pressure but some heavier droplets may escape. If at your camp site, then it probably has not had any activity for 6 hours or more, but a dump station will have more activity and probably more ground and touch-contaminated areas.

The level of ppe is relatively minimal in either case. I carry a Tyvek coverall but have not used it, but use disposable gloves, face mask (even before COVID) and shoe covers. Steamy1 suggestion of a bleach spray is not a bad idea either.

Since ppe to reduce risk is easy, it is similar to not standing in an open field but seeking shelter to avoid being hit by lightning, simple and effective.

We usually keep our grey tank open but just do a black tank cleanse at departure, depends on length of time camping. There are traps in all drains for the grey tank so there should not be any vapor back pressures, just like a home sewage system. Of course it is almost as easy to only open the grey tank when it fills up, or save it for purging after the black tank dump.

No mention here of what some people do: the PO told us they always used the campground shower, for instance, and others have said they use the campground toilet facilities most of the time. I prefer my own personal contamination instead of relying on others to contaminate me.
Cliff & Andrea,
two snowshoe cats, have not been camping yet
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Old 09-01-2020, 12:15 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
I think if you're really that worried about catching Conora virus from dumping your holding tanks, you should probably stay home. Seriously. By the time you analyze every possible way you can maybe catch this, you will have taken over 100% of the fun out of going anywhere, and removed the joy of "getting out".

Totally agree.

Spray beforehand with a bleach mixture or Lysol (if you can find either), wear mask, wear gloves.

For me, I've been doing this all along minus the mask.

There is a ton of great info out there and a ton of misinformation. You gotta do what you gotta do-- whatever makes you feel safe(er).
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Old 09-01-2020, 03:36 PM   #15
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Some research was done on sewage from municipal treatment operations, looking for evidence of antibodies in sewage as a way to give early wnarning of the viris in the community. There was no evidence of live virus in the sewage.
We know the virus is pretty fragile even if long lived on some surfaces
I wouldn't be worried about catching Covid 19 from sewage
I have consulted in sewage plants and I do not recall any concerns recently for people in daily contact with sewage. ( I have not googled the possibility. Don't have time or incentive ) Virus on the sewer connection won't likely live beyond a few days. Vapours don't carry virus; water spray from contaminated source does. Little chance of water spray from a sewer connection
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:18 AM   #16
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On a related note...

🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:33 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Bob Schrader View Post
. . .
. . . I trust my immune system . . .
. . .

Is this logical? [for a new virus]

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Old 09-02-2020, 09:23 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Lily&Me View Post
Thanks, Maggie, very interesting article.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:32 AM   #19
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They have been testing the sewage at Yosemite and finding Covid-19. So, far no NPS employees have come up positive so that leaves visitors and concessionaires.

I have always worn disposable gloves and closed-toe shoes at the dump station. Might wear a mask next time if it is a Sunday morning conga line at the dump station...
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Old 09-02-2020, 01:39 PM   #20
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I am with the majority here, use common sense, established protocols and you will be fine. We all have a tendency to over think things regarding Covid 19. I just read a good study about transmission factors but can't find it now. Basically they discussed the 3 routes, Surface Contact (fomites), Particulates (sneeze and/or coughing) and Aerosols. They dismissed fomites as a threat as long as you washed or disinfected your hands after touching surfaces. When in contact with infected individuals particulates can be controlled with masking and social distancing. The biggest threat is aerosols. These are minute particles that are set free through breathing, talking, singing, yelling. When you see a bunch of people at a football game, standing shoulder to shoulder cheering loudly for their team, this is a large issue. They equated this to smoke in the air. Long after the smoker leaves the room, you can smell the aerosols produced.

Throughout the article they remind us that an infected individual has to be present to transmit the disease. When you talk about stuff in sewers I would hazard to guess that the infection rate here would be rather small. Not, non existent, but not the same as talking directly to a carrier.

Again, do the right thing. Glove up, and even mask up, empty your tanks, rinse everything off and store things in a safe way. You are no worse off doing this today as you were months ago. Be careful, be mindful but don't over think this to the point where you need to stay home.
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