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Air Hand Dryers Can Spread More Germs Than Paper Towels

Entering a clean restroom with a sparkling floor and a pleasant scent is everyone’s wish. However, even spotless washrooms still spread germs. This is because most people regularly overlook the procedure of hand drying. Some of the hand dryers that are often used in washrooms include air dryers and paper dryers.

A recent study shows that drying hands using an air hand dryer can spread more germs than paper towels. According to experts, proper washing of hands is still the best way to avoid the spread of Covid-19. Most businesses have minimized touch to prevent the spreading of the virus. For instance, many restaurants are using the QR code for the menu instead of the traditional menu. Additionally, most businesses have placed air hand dryers in restrooms instead of paper towels.

Air hand dryers are primarily used to reduce the facility cost, and people tend to overuse paper towels. Unfortunately, not all people wash their hands well. Most people fail to wash their hands appropriately, thus, making bacteria and germs stick around.

In the latest Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology research, air hand dryers may spread germs on your hand. In addition, they could spread germs to clothes and transfer them to other areas.

Why Is An Air Hand Dryer Likely To Spread Germs Than A Paper Towel?

Dr. Paul S. Pottinger is a director and accredited physician. He operates in the Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine Clinic. He stated that the latest study was conducted to find out about the different hand-drying techniques and to find out if the methods were causing germs to spread in a hospital setting.

They conducted a study showing that air hand dryers spread germs to clothes during drying. It also left the hands more contaminated, thus, spreading bacteria to other areas. The results of the study were published in the Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. A Healthcare Epidemiology of America journal.

The European Tissue Symposium funded the research. The study was conducted in a health care facility where participants disinfected their hands. They then immersed their hands in a harmless virus. They dried them using either an air dryer, or a paper towel. The researchers then spotted the extent of the virus that was spread in different parts around the hospitals. The participants also had aprons on to test if the germs got transferred to their clothes.

The researchers then compared the two hand drying methods. The participants’ fingertips and palms after hand drying were immediately tested. This was to sample the foundation of the contamination before the participants left the bathroom. The participants of the research went around the hospital touching frequently used surfaces, including ward buttons and elevators. They also touched telephones and their aprons. The researchers then went collecting samples from the touched surface by the participants. They also took samples from their clothes.

They then used chlorine wipes to disinfect the surfaces after and before sampling. Routine cleaning also followed.

The study’s outcome showed that people who used air hand dryers spread more viruses than those who used paper towels. Users of air hand dryer contamination levels were 10 times more than those who used a paper towel for hand drying. According to a study, using a paper towel for poorly washed hands reduced the bacterial burden compared to air dyer.

The researchers also discovered that the chances of transferring bacteria to the apron were high when the participants used an air dryer. According to the research report, there was an increased chance of spreading germs through the clothes too. This was due to the microorganisms that were transferred to the participant’s clothes. The authors of the study wrote that preventing infection reduces the chances of germs spreading. According to their findings, they question the use of air hand drying methods in a hospital setting. Ines Moura stated that the results could be used in other facilities such as bathrooms.

The researcher at the University of Leeds and the study’s author said this during a press release. Moura also noted that the survey was executed in a hospital environment. She also added that this was an essential lesson for health institutions with an air dryer installed in their restroom. The result was also significant for public washrooms with excellent foot traffic. She also emphasized how the latest research offers an improved understanding of selecting a hand drying method. She added that the study could reduce contamination on poorly washed hands and facilitate good hand hygiene.

The participants did not receive any specific details on how to wash their hands. The authors also noted that future studies should examine the extent of the contamination and the methods of washing hands. In addition, how it may influence the magnitude of surface contamination and the bacteria spread. The previous research indicated that the hand washing routine of healthcare workers was not effective.

Different types of bacteria such as spores and pathogens could be transmitted to hands exposed to hand dryers and bathrooms. Research director Timothy Caulfield noted the findings of hand dryers were not reliable. He added that the research includes a recommendation that hygiene is vital only when using paper towels. Timothy is The Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta research director.

About Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology

ICHE offers peer-reviewed scientific and inventive articles. The articles are provided to anyone in an epidemiology program or infection control in a health facility or hospital. Cambridge University Press and Society printed ICHE for Healthcare Epidemiology.

The society for healthcare epidemiology of America is a society with over 2000 healthcare specialists. This includes physicians globally with experience in infection prevention and healthcare epidemiology. The association works toward improving public health through supporting antibiotic administration. They institute prevention measures among hospitals, health systems, and healthcare providers.

In the latest citation reports in the knowledge magazine, ICHE was listed in the infectious disease journal in the 41st position out of 89.