If you've ever used a public bathroom, you've probably used a hand dryer. Drying your hands, however, is an entirely new matter, with hand dryers in public bathrooms apparently not a good option. They scanned the areas for a strain of Bacillus subtilis, or PS533, that was engineered in a nearby laboratory, along with other bacterial colonies.
Scientists studied three different bathrooms in the University of CT by placing special plates beneath the dryers for 30 seconds.
The results of the study were concerning.
Research has shown that putting the toilet lid down before flushing will reduce airborne bacteria but, in public bathrooms, you can not guarantee that this is always being done, so it is desirable to avoid spreading it further.
Hand dryers suck up bathroom air and spew it out at speed.
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The study shows bathrooms without hand dryers had just six pathogens compared to 254 in bathrooms with hand dryers.
"Within a large building, potentially pathogenic bacteria including bacterial spores may travel between rooms, and subsequent bacterial/spore deposition by hand dryers is a possible mechanism for spread of infectious bacteria including spores of potential pathogens if present", the study said. They also exposed some of these sterile plates to the bathroom air under fans for 20 minutes. In fact, the University of Connecticut's School of Medicine even started to stock paper towels in its facilities.
Some hand dryers like those made by Dyson do use HEPA filters.
People, however, should not skip washing their hands to avoid getting bacteria on them from the hand dryer.
If that makes you feel any better.