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Ewww: Dirty truth about hand dryers and bathroom bacteria

New research shows hands that are held under hand driers are exposed to higher levels of fecal bacteria than hands that are left to air dry. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — A new study shows people who use hand dryers in public bathrooms end up with far more fecal bacteria on their hands than if they just walked out with wet hands.

Researchers at University of Connecticut found that a Petri dish held under the air stream of a dryer for 30 seconds captured 18-60 colonies of fecal bacteria spores, while a dish exposed to air in other parts of the bathroom left fewer than one colony on average.

The results were published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

What remains unclear is whether the dryers act as a reservoir for bacteria, or if they simply blow around contaminated air already in the rest room.

Regardless, study co-author Peter Setlow told Newsweek he prefers paper towels, which are now stocked in the 36 bathrooms used in the UCONN study.


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