You may think that you are being hygienic when washing your hands and using hot-air dryers in public restrooms. You’re right, but there is a hidden risk in thе story. Scientists suspect that hand dryers are able to dump lots of bacteria on our newly washed hands. And it turns out that they aren’t safe for each and every one of us.
Bright Side is ready to check this bacterial threat and share the results with you. The bonus is also going to add some food for thought.
Hand dryers do spread several types of germs.
Hand dryers gained popularity for being easy to use. And the pronounced eco-friendliness of these devices also added some bonus points to their side. But the idea that they might actually be germ cannons sparked a war of opinions. To find out if it’s true or not, researchers at the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University exposed several Petri dishes to restroom air under different conditions and then checked them in the laboratory.
The results showed that the Petri dishes left inside bathrooms for 2 minutes with the hand dryers off had about one bacterial colony. But turning a hand dryer on for 30 seconds changed the situation with the other plates. Those samples had as many as 18–60 colonies of germs.
Further investigation revealed that the biggest part of bacteria comes from the bathroom air. And mostly there are shoe, skin, and gut germs in there. Skin bacteria was found on surfaces that are usually touched by hands (for example, faucets or door handles), shoe bacteria was found on the floor, and fecal bacteria was found on the flushing handles and the toilet seats.
The toilet plume adds to the problem.
If you don’t close the lid before flushing the toilet when you’re done, you make your own little contribution to the spread of germs. Because every time you flush the toilet, a cloud of poop or urine bacteria is emitted into the room. If the lid is open, all of these germs will settle down on your bags, clothes, and cover the surfaces around the room. So, if you don’t want to add to the problem, the best idea is to close the lid before you flush.
How serious is the issue?
While there is evidence that hand dryers can be blamed for dumping germs on our freshly washed hands, there are still some issues to address, as well as some good news. Most of the microbes that were found during the studies are relatively harmless. They aren’t likely to cause any serious diseases in healthy people, and in some cases they can even bring some positive results, like boosting your immune system.
But there are some groups of people who need to be extra careful. We’re talking about those who have weakened immune systems or who are recovering from severe illnesses. It’s also better to be on guard when you visit hospitals or other healthcare settings since some harmful germs have been reported to be there.
Paper towels are an alternative.
So, you may want to keep in mind that there is a small chance of picking up a serious disease when using air dryers. But if you want to make this chance as low as possible, use paper towels. It seems to be a more hygienic way to dry our hands, according to this report.
Bonus: Here is one more reason to consider paper towels. It looks like some of these hand dryers never get cleaned.
What do you use in public restrooms — hand dryers or paper towels? Why?