'Green' Hand Dryers Also a Little Germy, Says Study

Hand Dryers are greener than paper towels, but they're not cleaner.

ByGillian Mohney
November 21, 2014, 4:28 PM

— -- This holiday season you might want to bring your own paper towels if you're heading to a festive get-together at a bar or restaurant.

It turns out that hand dryers -- common in restaurant or bar bathrooms -- may cut down on paper towel waste, but increase "bacterial aerosolization" possibly leading to some holiday infections, according to the study.

Researchers from the University of Leeds decided to see what happens to germs when people use a hand dryer rather than paper towel in the bathroom.

To simulate a person who "poorly washed" their hands, researchers coated their hands in a type of bacerita called lactobacilli or paint and then ran them under hand dryers -- both jet air and warm air -- 60 times.

They found that in addition to dry hands, the hand dryers lead to more bacteria in the air. The jet air dryers did the most damage.

Rooms with the jet air dryers had 4.5 times the bacteria than rooms with the the warm air hand dryer and 27 times the bacteria compared with rooms that just had paper towels.

According to researchers, the hand air dryers lead to aerosolized bacteria and may be unsuitable for hospital settings.

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