JET AIR DRYERS IN HOSPITALS SPREADING DANGEROUS GERMS
Ok. I’m old enough that I remember just how long ago it was that I first saw a hand dryer. It had one of those circular metal big buttons that you basically had to punch to turn on. There was no towel dispenser and I just kind of stood there with wet hands, until I punched that metal button and the dryer turned on. That was years ago. Today, there isn’t even a button. And most public bathrooms now sport motion activated air hand dryers. They’re noisy as hell. They’re…modern. But we’ve all assumed that besides saving paper, these machines have been protecting us from spreading, and getting, germs. But it turns out these air cannons are shooting bacteria at us, according to a new study.
RESEARCHERS COMPARED BATHROOMS AT THREE HOSPITALS IN THREE COUNTRIES IN NEW STUDY
Researchers in Italy, France and the UK worked together to figure out once and for all if air hand dryers were dirty or clean. Their method? They tracked the spread of a few different bacteria that we know cause disease in hospitals. Think awful critters like staph. They tracked these bacteria in the public restrooms of one hospital in each country. The total of six bathrooms in the study had either paper towels or the hot air machines to dry hands. The researchers were able to compare the two at each hospital separately. The findings were very clear in all three countries’ hospitals. Bathrooms with jet air hand dryers had a lot more germs than those with just paper towels.
ARE HAND DRYERS CONNECTED TO HOSPITAL SUPERBUGS?
To make this story sound even more disturbing, the study’s findings were published in the Journal of Hospital Infection. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. In the UK hospital bathrooms, the jet hand dryer equipped had three times more staph. That’s kind of shocking. But then in France, the jet dryer bathroom had twice the incidence of bacteria that resist antibiotics. So maybe there’s a connection to these bathrooms and superbugs that manifest in hospitals? Hand dryer makers like Dyson have criticized these studies, saying that their products are proven to be more hygienic. But people don’t always follow directions. That’s how disease spreads.