Using hand dryers in bathrooms may spread bacteria

Bathroom Hand Dryers Spew Fecal Matter

Bathroom Hand Dryers Spew Fecal Matter

The idea with bathroom hand dryers is that they're supposed to be a more environmentally friendly way, as opposed to paper towels, to dry your hands after washing. After having sucked in these microbes, the dryers reject them again - and in abundance - according to a recent study.

For the study, a Connecticut-based team looked at 36 bathrooms at facility of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Newsweek notes, where one lab produces large amounts of spores of PS533, a specific but harmless strain of bacteria Bacillus subtilis.

The study shows bathrooms without hand dryers had just six pathogens compared to 254 in bathrooms with hand dryers. And these redistributed bacteria did not just land on the occupants of the toilet: thanks to the high energy blowers, they were also scattered throughout the building.

While the researchers theorized that bathroom hand dryers might have been responsible for PS533 spreading from room to room, it was also revealed that petri dishes exposed to regular bathroom air had only one bacterial colony, as opposed to those that were exposed to half a minute of hand dryer air, which had as few as 18, and as many as 60 colonies spotted per plate.

The researchers checked inside the dryers to see if internal microbial buildup could play a role. What's more, the inside of the dryer nozzles themselves had "minimal bacterial levels".

A new study has found a dirty little secret about hand dryers found in many public restrooms. Comparable results were obtained when bathroom air was sampled for spores. But B. subtilis was not alone: the plates exposed to hand dryers contained a total of 62 types of bacteria representing 21 species, including Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterium that remains associated with serious infections.

Researchers say the hand dryers which are created to blow hot air on you are actually sucking up feces particles and spraying them all over your hands. By installing these filters in hand dryers, the number of dispersed bacteria has been significantly reduced.

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