Bathroom Hand Dryer Risks, High-Speed Bacteria Everywhere:
Just like anyone else, your Mom probably told you to do a lot of things.
Eat your greens, wear clean underwear for a car-accident, and wash your hands.
And given harrowing stats like 30% of New Yorkers infected with H.Pylori from public handrails, Mom was definitely right about a few things.
And though non-Mom Science tries to advance humanity, every once in awhile it takes us backward,
This time specifically with the invention of the public bathroom hand-dryer…
The Awful Truth Begins:
And the short-answer is Yes, it’s disgusting.
So the whole point of these things was to provide a quick, environmentally-friendly way of finishing the hand-washing process.
And if you construct them properly, it shouldn’t be too gross.
The other hope in the invention was to avoid masses of soggy paper-towels clogging up the bins and the landfills.
So that part worked.
But the part about actually cleaning your hands didn’t. Read on…
Recent Studies Say They Make Things (Much) Worse:
According to 3 teams of European researchers, hand dryers don’t just dry your hands.
They create an aerosol that shoots germs all over the bathroom in a fine-mist,
-No matter which country the team ran it in, England, France, or Italy.
The researchers found 200-500% more infection-causing bacteria in bathrooms that used jet-style hand dryers.
Another strange part of the evidence comes from the law of unintended-consequences.
Assumptions Make An Ass Of U And Me:
The assumption the manufacturer makes, other than press-button, receive-bacon,
Is that somebody who puts their hands under the dryer and blasts-off,
-Has actually washed them properly in the first place.
And that’s where the real problem starts.
Because 95% of people using public bathrooms do not wash their hands properly.
As an episode of MythBusters showed,
Rinsing your hands with water & not using soap only serves to move the microbes around and more-thoroughly-coat your hands, wrists and the surfaces you touch.
Now add that more-uniform distribution to what is essentially a small leaf-blower,
And you get a very efficient Banksy of the entire bathroom with every single germ on your mitts.
Jet Dryers Distribute Germs 8300x Better, 10 Feet Away:
The distribution of that spray has been shown in previous work.
The results are even worse for the high-speed jet-dryers, as opposed to the slower heat+evaporation ones.
These were capable of spreading 60 times more bacteria than all other air-blower methods,
And 1300% more than paper-towels.
These particles were also shown to travel not just the 16 inches for the near-field deposition test,
But at least as far as 10-feet from the hands in their first transit.
And 70% of the medium to heavy droplets were still airborne between 2.5 and 4.5 feet.
As you might expect, at this mid-distance they were shown to deposit almost 170x the particles of the low-speed heat+evaporation dryers,
And also a ludicrous 8300x as many droplets as paper-towels.
They Also Land Right Back On You And Your Children:
Aside from the current findings that they eventually circulate microbes all over the bathroom.
And in the ultimate-irony, if the machine uses an unfiltered-intake like all of the low-speed ones,
Or somehow becomes contaminated with microbes,
It also shoots between 18 and 245 germ-colonies right back onto your clean hands.
As for the off-machine blast-radius, that also puts the germs back onto your clothes at waist-height for adults.
Or if children were present, they got shot right in the face with an invisibility-cloak of microbes nearly down to their feet.
The Microbes Stay Active For More Than 5 Seconds, Too:
It also wasn’t just a one-shot deal.
High-concentrations of active microbes persisted at least 15-minutes after the use of a jet-dryer.
The duration of spread was much lower for both the slower heat+evaporation dryers and paper-towels,
And though total-time of microbe-activity is still unstudied, we should assume it lasts a long time.
Bathroom Hand Dryers Represent An Even Bigger Problem For Hospitals:
That may sound bad in a retail-establishment setting,
But there’s a much bigger problem.
Imagine you work in an infectious-disease ward at a Hospital, instead of just being grossed-out at the newly-free-for-all Starbucks latrine.
Now think of all the potential microbes,
And God-help-you, even antibiotic-resistant SuperBugs like MRSA being sprayed around the room by these things,
Free bacon or not.
And that’s the real scare in these studies, as hospitals are having problems controlling those things in the first place.
Even to the point of considering very costly upgrades to all the surfaces a person could touch, just for their antimicrobial properties.
You may one day even see a KnightScope trashcan-robot roaming around your local hospital,
Just to shoot out UV-rays to kill-off all the persistent microbes it can.
Antibiotic-Resistance Is Coming For Us All:
Circulation of germs isn’t just one problem, antibiotic-resistance is migrating from hospitals to civilians, too.
What with the banning of antimicrobial-soaps for normal people who are not surgeons,
To both avoid bioaccumulation of hormone-modifying compounds,
And also delay creation of the next superbug.
Microbe-resistance to even recent countermeasures seems to be increasing.
There are new strains of them that are becoming resistant even to hand-sanitizers like Purell.
So the idea that Hospitals & Care-Facilities with superbug-problems banning these things is probably a good one.
Even for recent healthy outpatients, the best thing they tell you to preserve your health,
Is to get out as soon as you can, and wash the hell out of your hands on the way.
It Looks Like The Old Ways Of The 1920s Are Still The Best:
The previous assumption from the early 1900s about the paper-towel being better now looks about right.
Yes, it creates more waste that has to be dealt-with.
But it gives you a clean-ish surface-tool to turn off sink-taps, grab door handles to avoid re-transmission,
And also most-importantly: To soak-up the moisture and germs off your hands,
Instead of flinging them around the room, willy-nilly.
And that MythBusters episode on bathrooms was already bad-enough,
Because it showed that toilet-flushing is already aerosolizing a ton of microbes as it is.
And studies on that show it covers approximately 65 square-feet every time.
So we don’t need the Category-4 microbe-tornadoes that are high-speed hand-dryers making that already gross experience more risky than before.
“press button receive bacon”, by The Bacon Wiki
• Sources: Leeds University – Jet Dryers | Leeds University – Dryers Spread Bacteria | Westminster U. – Paper Towels Are Best | MSU – 5% Wash Hands Properly
• More Coverage: The WHO’s Top-Rated 6-Step Handwashing Procedure
• Source Studies:
• J.HospInf. – Environmental contamination by bacteria in hospital washrooms according to hand-drying method: a multi-centre study
• J.AppMicro. – Evaluation of the potential for virus dispersal during hand drying: a comparison of three methods
• J.AppMicro – The potential spread of infection caused by aerosol contamination of surfaces after flushing a domestic toilet