Monday, June 08, 2009
The Dangers of Hand Driers
You know how all those companies that manufacture and market hot air hand driers have for so long pummeled home the Nanny type message that they are more hygienic than towels and paper?
Well, here's a funny thing, they're not!
Aside from not drying your hands at all efficiently (how many time have you had to finish the process off by wiping a still dripping paw on your trousers or skirt?), they spread more bugs than a bog standard (no pun intended) linen/paper towel.
One paper (Ngeow YF, Ong HW, Tan P. Dispersal of bacteria by an electric air hand dryer. Malays J Pathol. 1989 Aug;11:53-6.) found that air dryers dispersed marker bacteria in a radius of three feet and onto the investigator's laboratory coat.
Another study (Rebecca Montville, Yuhuan Chen and Donald W. Schaffner, Risk assessment of hand washing efficacy using literature and experimental data, International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 73, Issues 2-3, 11 March 2002, Pages 305-313) found that hot air dryers had the capacity to increase the bacterial count on the skin, and that paper towel drying decreased skin bacterial count. This is agreed upon by another study (Gould D. The significance of hand-drying in the prevention of infection.
Nurs Times. 1994 Nov 23-29;90(47):33-5) found that the mechanical action of paper towel drying removed bacteria, which is something hand dryers cannot do.
What brought all of this bubbling to my mind?
Well, believe it or not, I have Nanny to thank. My partner Eva, who is currently on a teaching course, advises me that there is some form of government public health information out there advising us how to best wash our hands (wrt MRSA and Piggy Flu); seemingly Nanny cautions against hot air hand driers.
I have always felt that hand driers were a complete waste of space, now I have scientific evidence to back up my prejudice!
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