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Why You Should Never Use the Air Dryers in Restrooms

You are 50 times more likely to be infected with a virus with an air dryer than regular wind blowing outside – isn’t that insane?! As a public health major, I am extremely cautious when it comes to drying my hands and I’ll explain why in this editorial. My goal as a future public health professional is to stop people from using those disease infected devices that are killing your body slowly.

You may choose the air dryer over paper towels because you “think” you’re saving the earth. Well, wrong. Most of your common paper towels are made from tree materials, meaning its biodegradable and won’t harm the environment. In fact, it’s just being placed back to its original environment. I’m not writing to tell you about the environment, but writing to you to convince you to stop using air dryers in public restrooms.

Researchers from the Journal of Microbiology suggests that air dryers, which blow off excess water with an intense airflow inside this machine – disperses more viruses directly into your hands than if you were to use a paper towel. Even though the person who used the machine before you washed their hands, think about all the children or unhygienic people who haven’t. The air from the machine spreads as far as 10 feet away into the air, causing the machine to be a “disease machine” that you unconsciously breathe in. On top of that, it blows hot air that goes directly into your face and body.

So, let’s go back to the person who washed their hands before you. Did they wash correctly? According to the University of Arizona, about 85% of people don’t wash their hands the correct way by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standards. If the person had not washed their hands properly, the air that’s blowing from the machine is also blowing out tiny viruses that can land on your face and body, and make their way into your system. Diseases that are most commonly spread through an air dryer include respiratory illnesses, eye infections, and diarrhea.

From the WHO, there are 11 steps on how to wash your hands properly. The duration of your hand washing procedure should last between 40 – 60 seconds. Here are the steps: 1) Wet hands with water and apply enough soap to cover all hand surfaces; 2) Rub hands palm to palm; 3) Right palm over left dorsum with interfaced fingers and vice versa; 4) Palm to palm with fingers interlaced; 5) Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked; 6) Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa; 7) Rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa; 8) Rinse hands with water; 9) Dry hand thoroughly with a single use towel; 10) Use towel to turn off faucet; and 11) “Your hands are safe now.”

Next time you see an air dryer in the bathroom, protect your face from inhaling the air. Choose the paper towel over the machine, or even wiping the excess water off your hands is much safer than an air dryer. If you ever wonder, “How did I get sick?” – ask yourself, “Did I use the air dryer again?”

Guam | Hawaii Pacific University
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