Jet Hand Dryers: Dryer or Germ Flinger?

Everyone has seen one, or a picture of one. The coolest looking hand dryer ever. If you have ever used one, it is a mind-boggling awesome experience. Your hands are dry – like that! - Dyson Hand Dryer Germs

Plus, jet dryers are claimed to be “the fastest, most hygienic hand dryer,” in marketing materials to distributors, government agencies and the general public.

But do they work as well as they claim?

Study Says Otherwise

An already flaming rivalry between paper towel manufacturers and a certain leading jet dryer manufacturer (do we have to name names?… ahem), flared after the results of a recent medical study were published. Found in the “Journal of Applied Microbiology” (linked below this article), the study looked at the virus dispersal of three hand drying methods: paper towels, warm-air dryers, and jet dryers.

Hello, germs! The study shows the jet dryers spread 1,300 times more viral plaque-forming units than paper towels. Jet dryers can fling viruses up to TEN FEET! A paper towel is a happy, safe 10 inches. Standard warm air dryers only inched to 2.5 feet.

Push Back is an Understatement

A spokesperson for Dyson said these types of studies are done in artificial conditions, “using unrealistically high levels of virus contamination on unwashed, gloved hands.” Continuing, “The paper towel industry has scare-mongered with this [type of] research.”

The paper towel, traditional warm-air dryer, and jet dryer manufacturers, their lobbyists, and public relations operations have been at each others’ throats since jet dryers disrupted the market in 2006 in the United Kingdom.

One unnamed industry insider (who freely admitted she leans in favor of Dyson) advised people to take solo medical journal studies with a grain of salt. She offered as an example the now famously discredited 1998 study connecting autism with the MMR vaccine (published in the British medical journal, “The Lancet”).

We are still talking about hand drying, right?

The Bottom Line

Dryers can’t blow germs if there aren’t germs to blow. So if we wash our hands properly, and if our bathroom owners maintain and keep the facilities clean, you probably won’t be sprayed with toxic particulates at record speeds. Or at least you’ll be sprayed with less toxic particulates at record speeds.

Link to the full “Journal of Applied Microbiology” study

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