Most of us don’t look forward to trips to the public bathrooms, especially with young children. When my daughters were younger, my biggest fear was that they would touch the dirty toilet seat with their hands. I always insisted they wash their hands a little extra when they were finished—just in case. Although they didn’t like the noisy hand blowers, I insisted they used them, as I didn’t want to risk them getting bacteria on their clean hands when they touched the paper towel holders. Little did I know, the best way for my kids to come in contact with fecal bacteria in a public restrooms was by using the power hand dryers on the bathroom wall.
CNBC reports – 36 bathrooms were used in a recent study at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. The study of the public bathrooms revealed, “Many kinds of bacteria, including potential pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bathroom hand dryers, and that spores could be dispersed throughout buildings and deposited on hands by hand dryers.”
We know fecal bacteria shoots into the air when a lidless toilet flushes — a phenomenon known, grossly, as a “toilet plume.” But in bathrooms where such plumes gush regularly, where does all that fecal bacteria go?
Into a hand dryer and onto your clean hands, perhaps. That’s what a new study suggests. Researchers examined plates exposed to just 30 seconds of a hand dryer compared to those left in, you know, just plain feces-filled air.
The findings: Air-blasted plates carried 18-60 colonies of bacteria on average, whereas two minutes’ exposure to the mere bathroom air left fewer than one colony on average. What’s more, the inside of the dryer nozzles themselves had “minimal bacterial levels.” The results were published recently in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
While it’s impossible to live in a bacteria-free bubble, it might be worth skipping the hand dryers in favor of the old-fashioned paper towel method. What do you think? Will you ever use a power hand dryer again after reading about this study?