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"Environmental" Hand Dryers Harm Human Health

Update Date: Nov 20, 2014 06:08 PM EST

Using restroom hand dryers may help save the planet... at the cost of human health. New research reveals that public toilet hand dryers are significantly worse than paper towels when it comes to spreading harmful bacteria.

Researchers at the University of Leeds examined the modern high-powered 'jet-air' and warm air hand dryers, and found that these "environmentally friendly" devices spread scores of germs in public toilets. Study analysis revealed that restrooms with jet air dryers contained 27 percent more airborne germs than those with paper towel dispensers.

Even more disturbing, air bacterial counts in areas near jet air dryers were 4.5 times higher than bacterial counts close to warm air dryers and 27 times higher than areas close to paper towels.

"Next time you dry your hands in a public toilet using an electric hand dryer, you may be spreading bacteria without knowing it. You may also be splattered with bugs from other people's hands," lead researcher Professor Mark Wilcox of the School of Medicine, said in a university release.

"These findings are important for understanding the ways in which bacteria spread, with the potential to transmit illness and disease," he concluded.

The latest findings were published in the Journal of Hospital Infection and presented at the Healthcare Infection Society (HIS) International Conference in Lyon, France.

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