If you are the 1 in 20 Americans who wash their hands correctly in the bathroom, there’s an adjustment you NEED to make!
A recent study by a team at the University at Buffalo in Western New York (think, Niagara Falls) has found that high-speed hand dryers are cleaner, more environmentally friendly and save a ton of money over time.
The team examined four high-traffic and low-traffic men and women’s bathrooms on the university campus that had Dyson Airblades and paper-towels dispensers. Then, they used blow torches (yes, blow torches) and cotton swabs to collect bacteria samples to find that six times more bacteria grew on paper-towel dispenser push-and-crank handles than on the Dyson Airblades.
But surprisingly, people sometimes opt to use paper towels.
“People in general think hand dryers are dirty,” said student researcher Alanna Olear, a senior environmental engineering major. “But they don’t know a lot about the [air dryer], which is cleaner than normal hand dryers. So their perception on regular hand dryers sways them to think that the Dysons are bad as well.”
And as a bonus, the air dryer is much better for the environment and the wallet. Through the life cycle of each product, Dyson Airblades produced 42% less carbon dioxide and cost under $28 per year in energy consumption, compared to paper towels, which cost more than $900 per year.
The team’s findings ultimately won second place in the 2014 New York State Pollution Prevention Institute’s R&D Student Competition.
Big Ideas is the Blog of The State University of New York, published by the Office of New Media.