You've likely used a hand dryer in a public restroom at a theatre or shopping centre, but a new TikTok video might make you think twice before doing so in the future.
User @the_lab_life1, whose TikTok account claims she is a Master of Science student and frequently posts videos from a lab, uploaded a video demonstrating her analysing multiple communal hand dryers to determine what amount of bacteria they expose a person to.
She captioned the video with "Finally testing hand dryers," adding a trigger warning. The popular TikTok video illustrates the differences between air drying your hands after washing them and using a hot-air hand dryer.
To determine the quantity and kind of bacteria pushed via the air, the TikTok artist used air drying and three different hand dryers from three distinct places. The demonstration video, which has received more than 26 million views, seemed to astound viewers.
@the_lab_life1 Trigger warning around 50 seconds 😬 #fyp #science #lab ♬ Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine
The scientist, who appears to operate in a laboratory, is seen in the video displaying bacteria that was left behind by movie theatre, shopping mall, and workplace hand dryers as well as air drying.
The petri plates were put in an incubator after each hand drier had been tested so the bacteria could develop in a sterile setting.
“Well, I wasn’t entirely surprised by the amount of bacteria but more by all the different types. I thought it would be a lot of normal skin related bacteria, but I was surprised to find many different colours and genus,” @the_lab_life1, who had asked to remain unidentified for reasons of confidentiality, divulged with Fox News Digital.
Even though some dryers included a blue-light to destroy bacteria, it appears that this feature does not function as effectively as consumers might believe.
“The issue with the hand dryers is that they need to be regularly cleaned and maintained. From facility to facility, no one would know the frequency and level of cleaning and maintenance,” Erica Susky, a Toronto-based medical microbiology researcher accredited in prevention and control of infections, told Fox News Digital.
Susky claims that filters in hand dryers may need to be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis.
“Filters that are not changed as frequently as directed can get loaded with particulates, which can have bacteria and mould accumulate in them over time,” Susky said in the same interview.
She added that other people's contamination of the dryers can also cause bacteria build-up.
“Someone may have washed their hands for not enough time to effectively remove all concerning microbes. Then, if this person touches the area where the diffuser is present, there could be a transfer of the microbes onto the dryer that could then be dispersed onto the next user,” Susky said to Fox.
A University of Connecticut study published in 2018 discovered that hand dryers in public restrooms blasted faeces and pathogens onto hands.
According to the study, which was then reported on by Fox News Digital, researchers reached their conclusion after installing data-collection plates under hand dryers in 36 restrooms on the campus of the University of Connecticut.
The study was then published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology Journal. According to the researchers, after roughly 30 seconds of putting the plates under the dryers, they discovered "between 18 and 60 different colonies of bacteria on each plate", New York Post reports.
The specifications of the type of bacteria that is growing are not covered in the TikTok video. Ideally, you'll be hesitant to approach the hand dryers the next time you dry your hands in a public washroom.
What is the wisest choice, then? The TikTok user claims in her video that air drying your hands is best because the petri dish tested negative for bacteria.
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