Disease data may doom hand dryers


Staff photo

Hand dryers blow germs around, but are relatively harmless to those with good immune systems.

Jack McBride ’19, Staff Reporter

With the world becoming more and more concerned about sanitation, no bathroom appliance seems safe. Bathroom hand dryers have been found to blow bacteria and fecal specs around a restroom. The intake vent collects bacteria from bacteria the toilet has propelled into the air, and sprays it on freshly washed hands.

“The more air ya move? The more bacteria stick,” Peter Setlow, lead author of the study, said. Petri dishes exposed to normal bathroom air had about one bacterial colony, the samples exposed to 30 seconds of hand dryer air had 18 to 60 bacterial colonies per dish.

Patrick O’Brien ’19 is worried and said, “I am somewhat bothered by this information.” Although this information may be troublesome, immune systems are able to handle the extra germs. It could also have a positive result, for it is possible for the contraction of germs to better the immune system.

Patrick also said, “There are many other actions that we do in everyday life that spread germs.”

“The restroom isn’t that dangerous,” Jack Gilbert, a microbiologist at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois said. “The organisms which can grow there have a very low probability of being able to cause an infection.”

Other experts contend there is very little to worry about when it comes to modern bathroom sanitation. Plus, air dryers are easier on the environment because thousands of acres of forest do not need to be chopped done to provide paper for hand drying.

So, the only people who should be worrying about hand dryers are those with weakened immune systems and people highly concerned about germs.

As long as one washes their hands thoroughly and often, nobody should fear an epidemic caused from air dryers.