Why you might want to rethink using public hand dryers

(Photo: Getty)

When you think of bacteria-heavy environments, a public bathroom probably crosses your mind — more specifically, probably the toilet seat or a sink. But what about a hand dryer?

A Facebook post that started as a gentle warning to family and friends has now been shared more than 575,000 times. Nichole Ward from Carlsbad, Calif., conducted a personal experiment on hand dryers and was amazed at what she found after just three days.

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“This here, is what grew in a Petri dish after just a few days. I stuck the open plate in an enclosed hand dryer of a public bathroom for a total of three minutes. Yes three only,” she wrote on Facebook. “This is the several strains of possible pathogenic fungi and bacteria that you’re swirling around your hands, and you think you’re walking out with clean hands. You’re welcome.”

Ward posted the image after completing the assignment for her microbiology professor. The image was quick to spread across social media, and after receiving so much feedback, Ward added a disclaimer to the post, concluding that the image was shared for awareness not to instill fear.

With more than 576,000 shares, readers were quick to respond about their fears being confirmed, while others offered more hygienic methods of drying your hands.

“Ahhhh! I just used one of those today, and on it it says ‘the most hygienic’ and all I could wonder is what about the air it blows into your face which is the contaminated air in the bathroom. Fecal matter everywhere! Gross,” wrote one follower.

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“I’ve used it so many times but so glad I know now. From now on I just wash and scrub, and dry on my clothes or shake and air dry OUTSIDE of the bano,” added another.

Experts believe the featured bacteria in Ward’s image is most likely E.coli, which comes from fecal matter and fungus. Since sharing the post almost two weeks ago, a Dyson spokesperson has responded to the viral image saying they are surprised at Ward’s findings.

“We’re very surprised to see these results, and unclear on the methodology employed. All Dyson Airblade hand dryers have HEPA filters that capture particles as small as bacteria from the washroom air before it leaves the machine. Dyson Airblade hand dryers are proven hygienic by university research and are trusted by hospitals, food manufacturers and businesses worldwide,” reported ABC Action News.

Ward recently reached out to ABC Actions News in San Diego to say her intention was never to stop people from using these devices, but rather just to share with her immediate friends and family.

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