Which is safer: paper towels or an electric dryer?

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 04.09.2021

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24 May 2021, 09:00

Scientists conducted an experiment that showed that electric hand dryers do not cleanse the skin and spread bacteria to other parts of the body and clothes. The results of the study were described by employees of the University of Leeds in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

According to the work carried out earlier by scientists, it was proved that the recommended sanitary and hygienic treatment of hands is far from always followed by medical workers. The study showed that only 40% of medical personnel comply with all the recommended rules. To better assess the effect of different hand treatment methods on the spread of pathogenic microorganisms and nosocomial infection, experts compared the quality of drying with an electric dryer and ordinary paper towels.

The study involved volunteers: they were first treated with an alcohol solution (70% ethyl alcohol), then with a virus-containing liquid. After that, the participants had to dry their hands using an electric dryer or disposable paper towels. Throughout the study, each volunteer wore a special apron to identify contamination. At the second stage, the participants walked along a predetermined route inside the hospital, touching various objects and surfaces: in particular, it was necessary to touch the elevator button, door lock handle, etc. Further, the experts took the analysis from these objects and surfaces, as well as from the participants' aprons...

It was found that the viral concentration on surfaces after touching people who dried their hands with an air dryer was about 10 times greater than after touching participants who used paper towels. Scientists also identified a large number of bacteria on aprons when they dried their hands with air, which was associated with the airborne spread of microorganisms on clothes and then outside the same room.

Experts concluded from the study that it can hardly be considered ideal equipping clinical institutions and medical centers with electric dryers, because they can become dangerous distributors of in-hospital infection and facilitate the transport of bacteria and viruses from insufficiently treated hands to clothing and other surfaces.

Disposable paper towels may not be as comfortable to use. However, in terms of preventing infectious spread, they are still safer and more preferable.

Original source of information: Cambridge.org

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