For the study, a Connecticut-based team looked at 36 bathrooms at facility of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Newsweek notes, where one lab produces large amounts of spores of PS533, a specific but harmless strain of bacteria Bacillus subtilis.
One of the basic hygiene measures is to dry the hands under a hand dryer after using the washroom.
A new study conducted by researchers in the University of CT showed that hand dryers expel a lot of harmful bacteria back onto your hands. The flushing of toilets spreads tiny water droplets all over the room.
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Peter Setlow, the lead author of the study, revealed that he has stopped using hand dryers after the research was completed. These contain bacteria from excrement. Thus the air sprayed is teeming with bacteria like E. coli that is found in faeces. To be on the safe side, wiping hands with a paper towel after washing with soap is a better option. They placed a sterile plate underneath the dryers for around 30 seconds. The hand dryers apparently not only blow out hot air, they also "suck in" air that's in the bathroom, the article states. Another set of plates were exposed to the bathroom air for two minutes.
Researchers in CT say using hand dryers can blow bacteria throughout bathroom surfaces and your hands. Although these particular spores, which can survive for years, are "meaningless" for human health, their vast distribution shows that bacteria had spread through the air of the entire building.
The scientists tested the efficacy of filters when installed or retro-fitted in the dryers, finding the HEPA filters only blocked about 75 percent of bacteria.
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For now, Setlow is sticking to paper towels-as is the University of CT, which has added them to all 36 bathrooms surveyed in the study.
They say that more research is needed to find out whether the hand dryers are simply doing a good job of blowing this bacteria towards your hands or if the nozzle itself might be harbouring bacteria.
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