Modern hand dryers are much worse than paper towels when it comes to spreading germs, according to new University of Leeds research. Airborne germ counts were 27 times higher around jet air dryers in comparison with the air around paper towel dispensers.
Scientists have found that high-powered 'jet-air' and warm air hand dryers can spread bacteria in public toilets. The study shows that both jet and warm air hand dryers spread bacteria into the air and onto users and those nearby.
Study leader Prof. Mark Wilcox, professor of medical microbiology at the University of Leeds, was quoted as saying, “While jet air dryers are good at hand drying, they achieve this by using air velocities of about 400 miles an hour. Unfortunately, this means that the dispersed water droplets (containing more or less bacteria/viruses depending on how hands were washed and how contaminated they were in the first place) will be fired longer distances and some will remain suspended in the air for many minutes (possibly hours).”
"Next time you dry your hands in a public toilet using an electric hand dryer, you may be spreading bacteria without knowing it. You may also be splattered with 'bugs' from other people's hands," he warned.
For the study, the team contaminated hands with a harmless type of bacteria called Lactobacillus, which is not normally found in public bathrooms. This was done to mimic hands that have been poorly washed. Subsequent detection of Lactobacilli in the air proved that it must have come from the hands during drying.
Bacterial air counts around jet air dryers were 4.5 times higher than around warm air dryers and 27 times higher compared to air around paper towels. Lactobacilli were detected in the air 15 minutes after hand drying, found the study.
"These findings are important for understanding the ways in which bacteria spread, with the potential to transmit illness and disease," Wilcox said.
The findings were published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.
Source: The Telegraph
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