Study Finds Hand Dryers Suck in Fecal Bacteria and Blow It All Over Your Hands

No one is safe from germs. No one. We are all just living creatures walking around with all kinds of bacteria spreading it to others, and vice versa. Well now, we have one more thing to worry about, and it includes restrooms. You know how they said that fecal bacteria shoot out into the air when a toilet flushes? Yeah, that’s old news. We have bigger things to worry about now.

A new study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found that as those bacteria flow around in the air…not only do they spread all over the room, but the hand dryer actually sucks them up. Yes, yes, like literally sucks up all that gross bacteria, becoming a human trap for all of us. Researchers examined dish plates exposed to hot air from a bathroom dryer for just 30 SECONDS, which grew up to 245 colonies of bacteria compared to those left in plane feces-filled air. Most plates had from 18-60 colonies of bacteria on average.

Oh, but not only that. The scary part about this whole thing is that research also tested the inside of the dryer nozzles themselves, which also showed “minimal bacteria levels.” For the study, a Connecticut based team looked at at a total of 36 bathrooms at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where one dish produced a large amount of spores of PS533, which is a specific but harmless strain of bacteria Bacillus subtilis.

Colonies of that strain made up around 2 to 5 percent of the bacteria found on the air-blasted plates, regardless of how far the bathroom was from the lab where the spores were made. According to researchers, “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.”

What scientist are unclear of is exactly how and why the air blasted plates shows so many more spores. They suggested that dryers act as “reservoir” for bacteria, or perhaps the installed hand dryers provide more exposure to the “already contaminated bathroom air.”

So what can we take from this whole study? Well, basically, maybe use paper towels? I know it might be bad for the environment to always use them, but hey, when it comes to your health, health beats it all. You don’t want any toilet germs all over. Plus public restrooms can sometimes be…well, gross.


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Silke  Jasso About the author:
Silke Jasso is a bilingual editor, writer, producer, and journalist specialized in online media. Born in Laredo Texas, her previous work includes LareDOS Newspaper where she was an editor and writer and Entravision Communications where she was a Co-Anchor and Multi-Media Journalist for Fox39 News and Univision 27.
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