But in bathrooms where such plumes gush regularly, where does all that fecal bacteria go?
Washing your grubby mitts is one of the best ways to cut your chances of getting sick and spreading harmful germs to others, but a new study may make you think twice before you use air hand dryers in public restrooms.
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"P$3 otentially pathogenic bacteria, including bacterial spores, may travel between rooms, and subsequent bacterial/spore deposition by hand dryers is a possible mechanism for spread of infectious bacteria, including spores of potential pathogens if present", according to the study.
Researchers say the hand dryers which are created to blow hot air on you are actually sucking up feces particles and spraying them all over your hands. The results were published recently in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
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The study took a look at 36 bathrooms at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, testing each machine during a single drying session. Colonies of that strain made up about 2-5% of the bacteria found on the air-blasted plates, regardless of how far the specific bathroom was from the lab where such spores were made.
What's unclear, they admit, is just why the air-blasted plates showed so many more spores. But septuagenarian Setlow says he's sticking to hand towels now, and the university has added them to each bathroom studied. That's because bathroom bacteria comes from feces and gets "aerosolized" when toilets are flushed, especially with the lid down, Setlow explains.
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