Dyson Airblades or paper towels: which is more hygienic?

Another piece of research has stoked up the beef between Dyson and paper towel manufacturers. But perhaps its not drying our hands thats the problem …

Theres a war going on for your wet hands, and its heating up. Companies such as Dyson, makers of the Airblade, have long complained about the paper towel industry sponsoring research into the hygiene implications of different hand-drying methods. So it was this week, when a paper in the Journal of Applied Microbiology concluded that Airblades spread 60 times more germs than standard air dryers, and 1,300 times more than standard paper towels. This was scaremongering, a company spokeswoman suggested, conducted under artificial conditions.

The conditions were set up by researchers at the University of Westminster, who took an innocuous virus, MS2, put it on their wet hands, then created a target 40cm away. They then applied the three drying methods blades, plain air, paper towel and counted the viral load that leapt across. Unsurprisingly, given that it doesnt involve air whooshing out, the paper towel load levels were so small as to be barely noticeable. In a second test the long-jump competition of this disease decathlon the Airblade shot the virus as far as 3m away, while standard air could only manage 75cm, and hand towels a frankly shoddy 25cm.

The paper is the latest salvo in this long-standing industrial beef. In 2005, a German Pulp and Paper Association-commissioned study showed that bacteria on skin was decreased by 24% by wiping hands on paper towel, whereas using a standard air dryer increased the load by 117%. Dyson has hit back in the past. In 2008, it became the first hand-dryer to be kite-marked by the Royal Society for Public Health, which noted that the Airblade filters 99.9% of bacteria out of the air it ingests, dubbing it a significant step forward in hand-dryer technology.

But with 40% of hospital infections reckoned to be associated with poor handwashing, perhaps cleaning rather than drying is the problem. In 2005, the American Society For Microbiology reported that 97% of women and 96% of men claimed they always washed their hands in the bathroom. In fact, the research went on, only 75% of women and 58% of men actually did.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/news/shortcuts/2016/apr/13/dyson-airblades-or-paper-towels-which-is-more-hygienic

Dyson Airblades or paper towels: which is more hygienic?