From the Deeper In Doo-Doo files comes this assessment that might make you want to adjust one of your most private rituals the next time you use the loo. It stems from the original notion that hand dryers offered a more sanitary and environmentally friendly alternative to paper towels in public washrooms.
However, a study conducted by the University of Connecticut has refuted that idea. Even more disturbing, the findings released earlier in April in the latest edition of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, contains graphic evidence on what actually happens when you use a hand dryer.
Careful, now. It ain't pretty.
It turns out that while a hand dryer, in the process of evaporating the water from your freshly-washed hands, is actually blowing particles of feces right onto them. Gross? You bet. Potentially toxic? Definitely!
As for how this germophobe nightmare takes place, we'll have rewind to the point where your business is officially taken care of, namely at the flush stage. Evidently, not all that stuff is destined for the bowels of your municipality's waste management system. Some of those poo particles shoot straight up into the air to altitudes of up to 15 feet. And once they're in free-floating mode in the washroom, that same air dryer manages to suck some of those tiny specks into its innards, blowing them onto what you thought were your cleaned palms.
And if that enclosed space is crowded, the air is more likely to move more, increasing the number of particles that wind up on your hands. Researchers used three washrooms for the study, timing the blowing cycle of hand dryers for a duration of 30 seconds and positioning a plate under each spout to catch those toxic elements. Upon examination, those plates revealed up to 30 different colonies of bacteria.
Scientists believe that the bacteria doesn't pose a hazard to most people, although seniors and folks with compromised immune systems might be prone to illness after exposing their hands to washroom dryers.
They also found that retrofitting the dryers with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters would considerably cut down on the bacteria.
Or you can use paper towels. However, if you're more green-minded than most, consider letting your hands dry by themselves instead.
Just do that part outside the washroom.