Hand dryers spread germs around room

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New research has shown that modern ‘jet-air’ hand dryers spread bacteria around the room and are worse to use than paper towels when it comes to germs.

Researchers discovered 27 times more germs floating about in the air around jet-air dryers than they did in the air around dispensers of paper towels. They also discovered five times the amount of bacteria around jet-air dryers, compared to warm-air dryers.

Previous research indicated that after going to the toilet, an individual carries about 200 million bacteria per square inch on each of their hands. If their hands are contaminated with viruses, it can transfer it to at least five more surfaces or around 14 other objects.

Part of the study included contaminating hands with a type of harmless bacteria, Lactobacillus. This bacterium is normally not present in public bathrooms. This action was done to mimic hands which have not been properly washed after a visit to the toilet. The resultant detection of the bacteria in the air indicated that it must have come from the affected hands during the drying process.

The researchers collected samples of the air around the hand dryers, as well as from a distance one or two metres away. Upon testing the air surrounding the jet-dryers for germs, they found the bacteria count to be five times more than around warm-air dryers. It was 27 times higher than bacteria found around a dispenser of paper towels.

They discovered bacteria next to the dryers, which remained there beyond the 15-second drying time. Around 48% of the bacteria were still present five minutes after the person had dried their hands, as well as 15 minutes later.

The leader of the study, from the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine, Professor Mark Wilcox, said people may be spreading bacteria without being aware of it when they use an electric hand dryer. He said that they may also be splattered with bacteria from other people’s hands.

A spokeswoman from Dyson stated that the technology the report was based on was flawed.

She said the Dyson Airblade hand dryers are the most hygienic, fastest method of drying hands and produce about 71% less CO2 than the use of paper towels. She added that it is possible to dry 18 pairs of hands for the price of one paper towel.

She added that, based on research which was commissioned by the company and conducted by the University of Bradford, it was found that the Dyson Airblade hand dryer is more hygienic than paper towels.

Image Credit: sabotrax

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