Using a hand dryer is one of the least nasty stages of using a public loo, surely?
You’ve just washed your hands, and (usually) don’t have to touch anything to use one, so the assumption is that you’ve left all of those bathroom germs behind.
Unfortunately, according to a new study, this isn’t so.
In fact, hand dryers are blowing something disgusting right onto you: poo particles.
The paper, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, involved the study of three separate bathrooms in the University of Connecticut, US.
Scientists set off hand dryers in the bathrooms and placed a special plate just beneath them for 30 seconds.
After testing the plates, they showed between 18 and 30 colonies of bacteria on them.
How do poo particles end up in a hand dryer?
Essentially, when you flush a loo with its lid off, this sends poo particles whizzing through the air.
Hand dryers tend to suck these up, warm them up, and spit them right out again.
The study concluded: “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.”
To avoid that bacteria, the researchers suggested fitting hand dryers with HEPA filters which could reduce bacterial deposition fourfold, or switching to paper towels. (Though the latter isn’t particularly environmentally friendly.)
So until those filters are fitted, you might prefer to drip dry.
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