Study: Bathroom Hand Dryers Blow Fecal Matter on Your Hands

Study: Bathroom Hand Dryers Blow Fecal Matter on Your Hands

A new study shows bathroom hand dryers blow out fecal matter after sucking it up from the air.

The study, conducted in three different bathrooms at the University of Connecticut and published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, involved setting a special plate under hand dryers to see what was blown out from them and whether the air contained any harmful bacteria.

The plates were then tested and found to contain 18 to 60 colonies of bacteria each, although harmless laboratory bacteria were used for the test. The numbers of bacteria were higher than those found in the air of bathrooms that didn’t have hand dryers, Newsweek reported.  

One plate tested even had 254 colonies on it, TreeHugger reported.  

The study suggested that fecal bacteria becomes aerosolized when lidless toilets are flushed, and then hand dryers suck up the germy air and spray it around even more. While the study mainly looked for the lab-engineered bacteria, observation did show that pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause skin infections, pneumonia, and sepsis, also were found in the bathrooms.

Study authors said Clostridium difficile, a serious illness that causes diarrhea, also could be spread through the hand dryers. 

Using a HEPA filter on the hand dryers reduced the bacteria by 75 percent, the study showed.

The University of Connecticut added paper towel dispensers to 36 of its bathrooms after completing the study, Newsweek reported. 

Twitter was not at all surprised by the study. 

Why is this surprising to people? Whoever let them install these in the first place was clearly a salesperson and not someone worried about infection prevention. Sad. A little late.
— Lady Bolding (@lady_bolding) April 11, 2018

We’re doomed.
— Vincent Rivera (@Vmike90) April 10, 2018

Does one really need a study to know that? These things push germs bacteria *everywhere* – not just onto your hands. Recycled paper is greener AND cleaner.
— Gregory Jones (@gpjonesii) April 10, 2018

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