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High-powered hand dryers spread 1,300 times more germs than paper towels

TomoNews US
TomoNews US
LONDON — A recently published study found that high-powered hand dryers spread more germs than other hand drying methods.

The study commissioned by the European Tissue Symposium (ETS) and conducted by researchers at the University of Westminster, tested jet air dryers including Dyson Airblades against warm air dryers and paper towels. Researchers found that paper towels spread the least amount of bacteria while jet air dryers spread the most — 60 times more than warm air dryers and 1,300 times more than paper towels.

Scientists dipped their hands into water containing harmless microbes then tested the different drying methods.

Researchers found jet air dryers utilizing 430 mph air blasts could disperse viruses nine feet across a bathroom, whereas standard dryers only spread viruses around 30 inches. Paper towels only spread viruses about 10 inches. With the greatest dispersals from air dryers occurring 2 to 3 feet from the floor, the face height of small children.

Researchers also tested the spread of yeast. Levels recorded at close distance for a jet air dryer revealed an average of 59.5 colonies compared with an average of just 2.2 colonies for paper towels. At a distance of roughly 8 inches, the jet air dryer recorded 67 colonies compared with only 6.5 for paper towels. At a distance of about 5 feet, the jet air dryer recorded 11.5 colonies of yeast compared to zero for paper towels.

"These findings clearly indicate that single-use towels spread the fewest microbes of all hand-drying methods," Leading researcher Keith Redway said. "The extent to which jet air dryers disperse microbes into the washroom environment is likely to have implications for policy guidance to facilities managers operating in a wide range of environments from sports venues and airports through to schools and hospitals."

The study was built upon a similar 2014 study by the University of Leeds and recently published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.


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