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Hand-driers for bathrooms could spray bacteria on their hands

It is important to wash your hands to protect yourself from germs. However, some hand dryers may be doing more harm than good, according to a new report.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine recently conducted a study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, to determine whether hot hand dryers in public toilets carry bacteria.

To do so, they examined 36 bathrooms throughout the campus. They specifically examined the areas of bacterial colonies and a laboratory-designed bacterial strain called Bacillus subtilis or PS533, which is often found in the soil. Using a special plate, they turned on the dryers for 30 seconds to discover which bacteria was spat out.

"These results indicate that many types of bacteria, including possible pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bath hand dryers," they wrote, "and that spores could be scattered around buildings and deposited in hands with hand dryers. "

As dryers blow air, they also absorb bacteria from the bath, which can become infected inside the device and explode in the hands. Germs can travel between rooms of a large building.

Therefore, they concluded that "hand dryers are a possible mechanism for the spread of infectious bacteria, including spores of possible pathogens, if present."

Scientists have also explored the capabilities of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. While they were able to block 75 percent of the bacteria, they have added paper towels to all the toilets included in their research.

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