Ever use air-powered hand dryers in a public restroom because you believe you’re staying more sanitary by not touching a paper towel dispenser?
Well, it turns out that may not be even remotely sanitary or healthy.
A joint study by the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University put 36 bacteria culture plates in men’s and women’s restrooms in an academic health center. Each culture got exposure to air from the hand driers for 30 seconds.
The Surprisingly Unhealthy Results
When exposed to regular bathroom air for 2 minutes without the hand driers running, a typical culture plate results in 1 or less colonies of bacteria. However, after just 30 seconds of exposure to hot air driers, the tested plates resulted in 18-60 colonies of bacteria each!
High efficiency filters made by Dyson did cut the amount of bacteria by 4 times. But clearly, that still leaves plenty of room for several bacteria colonies to grow.
However, the study couldn’t identify if hand dryers actually provide the means for bacteria to grow – or if they simply spread around bacteria already present in the air. Disgustingly, some of the particles in the air contain the fecal matter of others who have used the bathroom.
So, yes, clearly not a pleasant thought.
What Do You Do About All This?
Well at this point, honestly it’s still kind of early and really your own judgment call. Yes, several studies have implicated hand driers in spreading bacteria, viruses, and fecal matter.
So, you’d be safest in revisiting your sanitation protocols regarding these. And you’d be even safer in simply replacing them with automated paper towel dispensers people don’t have to touch. You may even want to include a brief sign in your bathrooms describing why you don’t use hand driers.
But of course, this includes additional costs. And then again, it’ll only be a matter of time before consumers and employees blame hand driers for the spread of disease. The mere sight of one could cause them to revolt in disgust – and harbor the same feelings against your company.
So, you have some thinking to do and decisions to make. Preliminary evidence seems to indicate most air hand driers aren’t good news.
Do you wait for confirmation? Or do you act early and prevent any possible damage to your business?
It’s a decision only you can make.