Health Care

Deposition of Bacteria and Bacterial Spores by Bathroom Hot-Air Hand Dryers

Deposition of Bacteria and Bacterial Spores by Bathroom Hot-Air Hand Dryers”

The hand dryers tested did not have air quality filters. That's the word, but a new study by University of CT scientists finds they spread fecal matter onto people's hands, CNET reports. "The more bacteria stick", the study's author Peter Setlow told Business Insider. Retrofitting hand dryers with HEPA filters reduced bacterial deposition by hand dryers ∼4-fold, and potential human pathogens were recovered from plates exposed to hand dryer air whether or not a HEPA filter was present and from bathroom air moved by a small fan. The results were published this month in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

A new study has found a dirty little secret about hand dryers found in many public restrooms. The simple movement of lots of people in and out of the bathroom, shedding microbes from their skin, he said, adds to the messy picture.

The research adds to a growing body of evidence showing that hot-air hand dryers have a role in the spread of bacteria-safe and potentially unsafe.

For the study, a Connecticut-based team looked at 36 bathrooms at facility of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Newsweek notes, where one lab produces large amounts of spores of PS533, a specific but harmless strain of bacteria Bacillus subtilis. So, in the brief moments your hands rest below the nozzle, they'll be exposed to far more air than usual-and far more bacteria. Researchers say the machines, which are created to blow hot air on you, are actually sucking up feces particles and spraying them onto your hands. That's because bathroom bacteria comes from feces and gets "aerosolized" when toilets are flushed, especially with the lid down, Setlow explains. Spore-forming colonies, identified as B. subtilis PS533, averaged ∼2.5 to 5% of bacteria deposited by hand dryers throughout the basic research areas examined regardless of distance from the spore-forming laboratory, and these were nearly certainly deposited as spores.

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