April 10, 2018

Study finds electric hand driers spread bacteria over your hands

Tree Hugger -Life Cycle Analyses have shown that electric hand dryers are far better for the environment at large than paper towels, but a study sponsored by the paper towel industry showed that (guess what?) electric dryers were also much better at spreading bacteria and viruses.
Now Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing points to a new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut that seems independent, and which finds that, as ars technica so delicately put it, hot-air dryers suck in nasty bathroom bacteria and shoot them at your hands.
The paywalled study, Deposition of Bacteria and Bacterial Spores by Bathroom Hot-Air Hand Dryers, describes how the researchers put Petri dishes of agar under hot air dryers. According to ars technica:
In the still bathrooms, the researchers caught an average of zero to one bacterial landings per plate. When they left the plates open for 18 hours, that average leapt to six colonies per plate. But in the line of fire from the blowers for 30 seconds, the plates collected averages from 18 to 60, with a range as high as 254 depending on the bathroom.
So basically, when people flush the toilet, fecal bacteria and viruses get airborne. As Cory Doctorow puts it, "they hover in a miasmic cloud; when the dryers switch on, they pull these particles in through their intake, heat them up, and spray them onto your moist hands and other moist, hospitable surfaces where their bacteria can thrive."

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