Spread of pathogens is more with air dryer as compared to paper towels
We all know about the important role that germs present on hand play in the spread of diseases. However, little research has been done to find out which is the best method for drying the hands after washing so that air-borne spread of infection from the hands is minimal. There are three methods that are commonly used for drying hands, namely:
· Use of jet dryer
· Use of warm air dryer
· Use of paper towels
A recent study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection compared the three methods and found that the spread of pathogens through air is minimum when paper towels are used for drying the hands.
For their study, the researchers led by Mark Wilcox, asked volunteers to dip their gloved hands in bowls of yogurt which contain lactobacilli. These hands simulated poorly washed hands. The volunteers were then asked to dry their hands using jet dryers, warm air machines or paper towels. 120 air samples were taken, 60 from test subjects and 60 from controls. The samples were taken both from close proximity and from a distance of 1m.
It was observed that the air samples from close vicinity showed 4.5 times higher bacterial counts for the jet air dryer compared to the warm air dryer. When compared to paper towel, the bacterial counts with jet air dryer were a whopping 27 times higher. A similar picture was observed in samples collected from a distance of 1m. In this case, the bacterial counts were 89.5 when jet air dryer was used, 18.7 when a warm air dryer was used and 2.2 when a paper towel was used.
For a visualization of the potential spread of bacteria with the use of these three techniques, the volunteers were asked to dip their gloved hands in black paint. They were asked to wear white suits with hoods covering their faces. Upon drying their hand, 230 paint spots were visible on the clothes when jet air dryer was used, 130 paint spots when warm air machine was used and no spots were observed when paper towel was used.
On the basis of their research, the study authors have opined that jet air dryers may be unsuitable for use in a hospital setting as airborne dissemination of pathogens is more with them.