Hand dryers may not be as hygienic as you think – study find they suck in faecal bacteria and blow it all over your hands

Toilet plume is a well-known phenomenon, if you don’t know what it is, then let me sum it up. It’s basically the process of the faecal bacteria shooting up into the air when you flush the toilet. It mainly occurs when the lid is up and not closed.

So now you are probably thinking, where does all of these nasty bacteria go? Most likely, it will go into a hand dryer and then onto your hands right after you thought you washed them. A research study examined plates that were exposed to 30 seconds of a hand dryer and found air filled with faeces.

It was also found that each air blast carried between 18 and 60 types of bacteria, in comparison to far less bacteria if hands were left to dry in normal bathroom air. The results of this study were recently published by the online journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The research team that was based in Connecticut observed 36-bathroom facilities located at the University of Connecticut medicine faculty. It was noted by Newsweek that “where one lab produces large amounts of spores of PS533, a specific but harmless strain of bacteria Bacillus subtilis.”
The colonies of that strain equated to between 2 and 5% of the bacteria that was found on the air blasted plates regardless of how far they were from the lab.

The authors asserted that “these results indicate that many kinds of bacteria, including potential pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bathroom hand dryers, and that spores could be dispersed throughout buildings and deposited on hands by hand dryers.”

The authors add that it is unclear if the air blasted plates showed more spores. However, they suggested that hand dryers act as a “reservoir” for the bacteria and the intensity of the blow contributes to the already polluted air.

One of the study authors is Peter Setlow who now prefers paper towels which have been reintroduced to the bathroom facilities once again at the university.

“Bacteria in bathrooms will come from faeces, which can be aerosolized a bit when toilets, especially lidless toilets, are flushed” Peter informed Newsweek.

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