A new study in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that test plates that had been left in a hand dryer for 30 seconds gained at least 18 to 60 bacterial colonies, whereas that were simply left in the bathroom, the air for two minutes had less than one on average. This could be a strong indicator that these devices absorb and disperse pathogens.
"The results indicate that many types of bacteria, including possible pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bath hand dryers and that spores could be dispersed in all buildings and deposited on hands with dryers of hands ", wrote the authors.
Much more research will be needed since it is not entirely clear if the dryers simply disperse the dirty air or if something else is working. The authors of the study did note that the bacteria in the nozzles of the dryers were minimal, which indicates that the dryers probably simply take dirty air and help the bacteria to "stick" to the hands.
"The more you move, the more bacteria stick," said lead author Peter Setlow Business Insider . "And there are many bacteria in the bathrooms."
A way to reduce the bacterial load? Use dryers with HEPA filters. These reduce bacterial exposure four times according to the study.
Setlow, who is over 70, has stopped using full-blown dryers. "If I am a person whose immune system is suppressed, I want to minimize my exposure to bacteria," he said.
Paper towels, although not the best for the environment, are the best for us. They dry their hands much, much faster, in addition to having less initial risks. Having wet hands is really the worst, since bacteria are more likely to join. Therefore, drying them more quickly and more completely (than paper towels) is usually the most sanitary option.
The more you know.
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