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Hand dryers and personal health: the hidden link

Hand dryers

Hand dryers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drying your hands in a toilet room is a simple and immediate gesture, yet one that can carry a vast number of consequences.

 

From a health standpoint, little attention is usually paid to what happens after hand washing. Although soap generally removes between 60% and 90% of bacteria from the skin, not all attendants of a public space will wash their hands as thoroughly as they should. In fact, most people keep their hands under running water for no longer than 5 seconds.

 

As a consequence, over the years more old-fashioned push-button hand dryers have been accused of falling short for what concerns health standards, mostly because they would spread the air around a person’s hands in the rest of the room.

 

The main brands of hand dryers have since moved on swiftly, finding clever ways to regain lost ground in a market where traditional paper towels used to be considered more hygienic. This is most notably thanks to a new breed of devices relying on jets of heated air.

 

Since the first model introduced in 2006, such devices have been sporting a number of very advanced systems designed to filter bacteria out of the air flowing over your hands.

 

With the old-fashioned push-button system slowly but surely going out of fashion, an inspiring kind of evolution has been taking place. Over the last decade, both the increasing competition and the commercial needs of hand dryer brands meant that much greater attention was paid by manufacturers towards the customers’ health and environment alike.

 

This quickly turned into a win-win situation for all parties involved, as shopkeepers and environmentalists have also a few reasons to rejoice.

 

It shouldn’t be forgotten that good old towels have one of the highest impacts on the environment.

Such impact is calculated based on factors such as global warming potential, human health, ecosystem quality, cumulative energy demand, water consumption and land occupation. Further backing this up, a number of independent studies through the years concluded that, on most occasions, hand dryers are greener than paper towels.

 

Electrical drying methods are also a much cheaper option for shopkeepers: it costs on average more than triple the price of a hand-dryer per year to keep the dispenser full and a customer’s hands dry.

 

From an environmental perspective, the hand dryers introduced over the last decade have also been developed with a particular focus on keeping the consumption as low as possible.

 

The most performing products on the market now take around 10 seconds to dry hands, keeping electricity consumption to a minimum (650 watts on average) and consolidating eco-friendliness all round.

 

With such green credentials and the risk of spreading bacteria also reduced to a minimum, hand dryers with jets of heated air now seem to represent the most sensible option for public toilets around the world. At least until the next big thing in this ever-changing industry comes around.