Bathroom hand dryers are lousy with bacteria

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Nichole Ward shared a photo on January 30 of a petri dish filled with nasty-looking organisms she says grew in 48 hours after she waved it in a public bathroom hand dryer - the kind you stick your hands down into and draw them out slowly - for three minutes.

"The hot air will kill the bacteria on the hands, but some studies have found they will also deposit bacteria in the restroom on your hands - i.e., from the air", said Charles P. Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona.

"I stuck the open plate in an enclosed hand dryer of a public bathroom for a total of 3 minutes".

The woman claims she put a Petri dish inside a public hand dryer then incubated it for 48 hours. Source Facebook  Eddie Goose Rimer
The woman claims she put a Petri dish inside a public hand dryer then incubated it for 48 hours. Source Facebook Eddie Goose Rimer

'From an outside perspective, a blow dryer makes sense, ' she went on.

Before you panic and vow to never use a hand dryer again, it's likely that if you're not getting sick or experiencing unusual symptoms, the hand dryer is having no effect.

Originally, Nichole mentioned in her post that she'd conducted the experiment with a Dyson Airblade.

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Nichole Ward has made it clear in her post that while both fungi and bacteria grew int he Petri dish, they are only "possibly" pathogenic, and may in fact be harmless.

Still, she added that it's still better to use the air dryers than to not wash your hands at all.

Nichole said that from now on she will be sticking to drying with her clothes or shaking and air drying outside of the bathroom. Do not use them. But, given the luxury of choice most of us lean towards the hand dryer. She claims she picked up the stuff from a hand dryer. Paper towels in theory - but it's not good for the environment to waste that much paper. 'But the spores in the air of a bathroom are SERIOUS and this was obviously overlooked'.

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What's less clear is how Nichole did it, or whether she followed the correct procedures to create her vile-looking dish, or what her scientific background is.

In a statement to ABC Action News, a Dyson spokesperson noted they were "surprised to see these results, and unclear on the methodology employed". In 2016, a study found that Dyson's air hand dryers spread 1300 times the germs as paper towels. It goes on to state the hand dryers are "proven hygienic by university research and are trusted by hospitals, food manufacturers and business worldwide".

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