You may think that using a hand dryer in a public toilets is a far more hygienic way of drying your hands than using a towel.
However, a recent study conducted by the University of Connecticut showed that bathroom hand dryers like to suck in bacteria and spray it back out when used.
Here's the basic science behind it...
When toilet water is flushed with the lid open, bacteria is thrown up into the air - this is called a ‘toilet plume’. That same bacteria is then sucked in through the air intake on the dyer, heated up and then blown onto the user once switched on.
The team from the University of Connecticut assessed the dryers in men’s and women’s toilets in three separate areas, using plates to collect the bacteria and found some scary results...
The plates that were exposed to hand dryer air for 30 seconds collected approximately 18 to 60 colonies of bacteria, while the plates that were simply placed in a bathroom while a fan restributed air for 20 minutes collected an average of 15 to 20 colonies of bacteria.
The researchers concluded that fitting hand dryers with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters could reduce the amount of bacteria distributed by hand dryers.
However, plates still collected bacteria even when dryers were fitted with HEPA filters, which strengthens the argument that hand dryers will always pose a potential health risk.
The researchers went on to say that: “These results indicate that many kinds of bacteria, including potential pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bathroom hand dryers and that spores could be dispersed throughout buildings and deposited on hands by hand dryers.”
“This study has implications for the control of opportunistic material pathogens and spores in public environments, including heath care settings.”
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