That's the word, but a new study by University of CT scientists finds they spread fecal matter onto people's hands, CNET reports. Retrofitting hand dryers with HEPA filters reduced bacterial deposition by hand dryers ∼4-fold, and potential human pathogens were recovered from plates exposed to hand dryer air whether or not a HEPA filter was present and from bathroom air moved by a small fan. That's what a new study suggests.
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.
The study took a look at 36 bathrooms at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, testing each machine during a single drying session.
Speaking to Newsweek, study author Peter Setlow, a professor at the University of CT, explained the origin of most forms of bacteria that could be found in public bathrooms. But in bathrooms where such plumes gush regularly, where does all that fecal bacteria go? What's more, the inside of the dryer nozzles themselves had "minimal bacterial levels".
It is not clear whether the dryers are harbouring the bacteria inside, or pushing it out at a concentrated rate.
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"T$3 here is evidence that bathroom hand dryers can disperse bacteria from hands or deposit bacteria on surfaces, including recently washed hands", the study says.
According to Science Alert, the findings were troubling enough for Setlow to avoid bathroom hand dryers going forward, and for the University of CT to offer paper towels for those who aren't comfortable using dryers.
Into a hand dryer and onto your clean hands, perhaps.
That's the best way to do it, you're not blowing air around the facility and it's effective.