A new study has found a dirty little secret about hand dryers found in many public restrooms. Researchers say the machines which are designed to blow hot air on you are actually sucking up feces particles and spraying them onto your hands.
The report, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, found that air blasted out from the hand drying nozzles contains far more bacteria than normal bathroom air. As many as 60 different bacterial colonies can be blown out of the machines in just one 30-second drying.
“The more air ya move? The more bacteria stick,” the study’s author Peter Setlow told Business Insider. “And there are a lot of bacteria in bathrooms.” The study examined 36 bathrooms at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, testing each machine during a single drying session. Several of the samples contained staphylococcus aureus, a common bacteria found in the body and sometimes linked to serious infections.
Researchers added that they weren’t sure if dryers are the actual source of bacteria after tests run on the machines found far fewer particles when they were not in use. “Bacteria in bathrooms will come from feces, which can be aerosolized a bit when toilets, especially lidless toilets, are flushed,” Setlow said, via Yahoo.
Other bathroom studies have theorized that particles are originating from the “toilet plume,” which can spray feces and other germs up to 15 feet in the air during a flush. UConn’s School of Medicine has already begun to trade in the bacteria-spreading dryers for regular paper towels and scientists recommend always closing the lid before flushing any toilet.