Researchers Warn Bathroom Hand Dryers Could Spread Bacteria From Toilets

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If you wash your hands after using a public washroom and then use a dryer, you may well leave the place with your hands dirtier before you got in.

That's the best way to do it, you're not blowing air around the facility and it's effective. In doing so, they also siphon bacteria and other microbes carried by passersby, or left in the toilet by those who would not have lowered the lid.

"These results indicate that 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", the authors said.

Hot-air hand dryers in multiple men's and women's bathrooms in three basic science research areas in an academic health center were screened for their deposition on plates of (i) total bacteria, some of which were identified, and (ii) a kanamycin-resistant Bacillus subtilis strain, PS533, spores of which are produced in large amounts in one basic science research laboratory.


As part of their study, the researchers put 36 glucose-coated plates in the washrooms of their building - with the hand dryers turned on and off - and checked for bacterial plaque growth.

The researchers checked inside the dryers to see if internal microbial buildup could play a role. As Newsweek pointed out, installing the filters on select dryers seemed to work decently enough, if not perfectly, as they were able to block about 75 percent of all bacteria.

We know fecal bacteria shoots into the air when a lidless toilet flushes - a phenomenon known, grossly, as a "toilet plume". Several of the samples contained staphylococcus aureus, a common bacteria found in the body and sometimes linked to serious infections.

Ideally, using high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA filters, can be a good way to prevent bacteria from traveling to a person's hand after using a bathroom hand dryer.

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