Hot Air Hand Dryers: Convenience or Health Threat?

You’ve probably used a hot air hand dryer recently, because they are becoming the norm in public restrooms.  They’ve been around for decades – in bathrooms everywhere from schools to restaurants to gas stations to shopping malls.

The reason?  They’re convenient, and in the long run they are less expensive. There are no paper towels to continually restock, there is no trash to dispose of, and restroom cleanup is simplified – no loose paper towels everywhere to be picked up.

But they also pose a severe health risk, in at least two categories:

  • The blowing air distributes any bacteria on your hands into the air, to be breathed by others or deposited on their skin
  • But what’s worse, that dryer is sucking the bacteria in the air released when toilets are flushed, and then spreading it on your hands
  • If a parent has recently used the diaper changing table that’s present in most public restrooms, those germs are being spewed about as well

Harvard Medical School recently published the results of a joint study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University.  Here’s an excerpt:

Petri dishes exposed to bathroom air for two minutes with the hand dryers off only grew one colony of bacteria, or none at all. However, petri dishes exposed to hot air from a bathroom hand dryer for 30 seconds grew up to 254 colonies of bacteria (though most had from 18 to 60 colonies of bacteria). The Bacterial Horror of Hot Air Hand Dryers(Source: Harvard Health Publishing, “.”)

To protect yourself it’s best to avoid those air hand dryers. But it’s important to dry your hands as well. You may want to start carrying paper towels when you use a public facility and skip that germ-blowing hot air.  As a company that specializes in biohazard cleanup, we know how dangerous airborne germs can be.


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