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Use paper towels for hygienic hand drying

February 24, 2009
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PHILADELPHIA — According to an independent study conducted by scientists at the University of Westminster in London, using paper towels to dry your hands is far more hygienic than using electric hand dryers, according to a press release.
The study measured the number of bacteria on subjects’ hands before washing and after drying them using three different methods — paper towels, a traditional warm air dyer and a new high-speed jet air dryer, the release stated.
Keith Redway, a senior academic in the department of biomedical sciences at the University of Westminster, said: "The results of all parts of this study suggest that the use of warm air dryers and jet air dryers should be carefully considered in locations where hygiene is of paramount importance, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, nurseries, care homes, kitchens and other food preparation areas. In addition, paper hand towel use is highly beneficial for improved hygiene in any other facilities open to the public, such as factories, offices, bars and restaurants."
The study, which is available for review at www.westminster.ac.uk/~redwayk, found that paper towel drying reduced the average number of bacteria on the finger pads by up to 76 percent and on the palms by up to 77 percent. By comparison, electric hand dryers caused bacteria counts to increase as much as 254 percent in some cases, the release noted.
Use of a traditional warm-air hand dryer spread micro-organisms up to 0.25 meters from the dryer while the jet air dryer, which blows air out of the unit at claimed speeds of 400 mph, was capable of blowing micro-organisms from the hands and the unit and potentially contaminating other washroom users and the washroom environment up to 2 meters away, the release added.
According to the release, paper towels showed no significant spread of micro-organisms.
Click here to read the complete release.
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