You might want to think twice before using a hand dryer next time.
The Journal of Hospital Infection recently featured Professor Mark Wilcox and his colleagues who carried out an investigation in hospitals in three major cities, Leeds, Paris, and Udine to examine how hand drying methods affected bacterial spread in hospital bathrooms. The investigation spread over a 12-week period.
For each location, two toilets were selected to offer either a hand dryer or paper towels. Samples of the air and swabs of restroom surfaces were taken every day for four weeks.
The investigation was carried out in three different major cities in the world which included Paris and was spread over twelve weeks.
At all of the selected locations, two toilets that were frequently used were selected and one of the two used paper towels while the other used hand dryers. Air samples and swabs cleaned off from various surfaces in the toilet were taken regularly for about 4 weeks. After a two-week break, each restroom switched to offer the alternate drying method. This process was then repeated a third time.
Cultures from these samples revealed that the total amount of bacteria in the air and on surfaces was much higher in ALL restrooms when jet dryers were being used.
This is not the first time this revelation was made. A team of researchers from the University of Leeds had revealed, in 2014, that the no-touch air dryers in public restrooms are responsible for transferring germs from people’s badly washed hands to nearby surfaces and into the air and thus, actually INCREASING the likelihood that you will walk out the loo covered in germs.
They cited lab-based experiments emulating the conditions in a public restroom and found that air dryers introduced 27 times more bacteria into the air than the old-fashioned paper towels, leaving these microbes lingering in the area for 15 minutes afterward effectively meaning that the loo air is contaminated most of the time. This time, the authors collected more proof from real-life experiments which should be enough to convince anybody of the drawbacks of using air dryers.