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Beware of germs in hand dryers

Larissa Warneck
October 24, 2018

The use of jet-air hand dryers should be banned in public toilets, say researchers. Why? Because people don't wash their hands properly.

Woman with hands in front of her face
Image: Colourbox

The amount of bacteria in the air and on bathroom surfaces is much higher when jet-air hand dryers are used compared to paper towels.

The reason being that people don't wash their hands properly. Consequently, the bacteria left on their hands is blown into the air and distributed on bathroom surfaces.

Read more: Germs at the airport: A hotbed for viruses

In a staged study in 2014, researchers at the University of Leeds in the UK found that jet-air dryers blew 27 times more bacteria into the air than paper towels.

The same researchers have now discovered that public toilets with jet-air driers have a much higher concentration of bacteria than ones that offer paper towels.

Even more disconcerting: Some bathrooms with jet-air dryers contained antibiotic resistant bacteria. These bacteria are becoming a growing problem worldwide, especially in hospital and nursing home settings.

Read more: Noroviruses — highly contagious, really disgusting

The researchers believe that more efforts should be undertaken to ban jet-air hand driers from public spaces, such as hospitals. Paper towels, they say, absorb most of the water and bacteria remaining on the hands, so that the germs can't be spread.

It is also important that people wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after using bathroom facilities.