BlowingFive Myths about Hand Dryers                                 Hot           Air?                                    ...
touch any surfaces at all in order to dry        ing to cost more than a package of paper        major selling points for ...
Building Services Management Blowing Hot Air
Building Services Management Blowing Hot Air
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Building Services Management Blowing Hot Air

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Building Services Management Blowing Hot Air

  1. 1. BlowingFive Myths about Hand Dryers Hot Air? De bunked BY DENNIS GAGNON First invented by George Clemens in great deal more attention than deserved. threat posed by hand dryer use. 1948, hand dryers are now widely avail- First of all, the Westminster report has able in many public restrooms and touted Myth 1: Hand Dryers been criticized: In the 1994 paper entitled as the environmentally friendly alternative are Not Sanitary “Bacteria on Washed and Dried Hands: A to paper towels. The only existing study to make this Critical Review of two Unpublished Reports Because of the expense of making paper claim comes from the University of West- from the University of Westminster,” Dr. and the waste and labor involved in its minster in England. In 1993, K. Redway et Syed Saatar from the University of Ottawa maintenance and disposal, hand dryers al produced a study and two unpublished re- reports that “certain flaws in the methodol- seem like a logical choice for increasingly ports funded by the Association of Makers ogy ... compromise its value.” green-conscious (and frugal) facility owners of Soft Tissue Papers. The study concluded As for the myth that hand dryers harbor and managers. that hand dryers dramatically increased bac- bacteria and subsequently blow microbes However, many people have reported teria counts. The study was widely distrib- onto users’ skin, this is nearly impossible: poor experiences with hand dryers, as a re- uted in the media but was not published nor the interior of a hand dryer is dry, and con- sult, even the facilities that do provide hand recognized by any medical or health review. stantly heated, creating a very poor environ- dryers may also supply paper towels to pre- This single study’s suggestion that ment for the propagation of microorganisms. vent irritating their patrons. Hand dryers hand dryers blow germs onto your just- In fact, according to the 1990 study by have a mixed reputation in the industry, and cleaned hands was enough to generate an Ansari et al, the interior of a dryer has bac- deservedly so. easy sound bite that still comes up occa- teria counts two to four times LOWER than In some of the myths addressed in this ar- sionally in the media. However, research other surfaces in the bathroom, such as ticle, there is also an element of truth; other indicates that this claim only amounts to a sinks, doorknobs and soap dispensers. myths are based on heavily biased, outdated scare tactic favored by the paper indus- Hand dryers leave no refuse behind, and and/or flawed information that received a try, and not an actual, significant health hands-free models alleviate the need to Building Services Management | www.bsmmag.com
  2. 2. touch any surfaces at all in order to dry ing to cost more than a package of paper major selling points for the use of handhands. Facility owners seeking to maximize towels, and probably more than the towel dryers as a source reduction alternative.hygiene in their restroom facilities should dispenser they are loaded into. However, the As for electricity costs to the facilityinstall as many hands-free fixtures as pos- up-front cost is deceptive. Hand dryers are a owner, hand dryers that work efficientlysible. In addition to hand dryers, auto- one-time purchase: once installed, they re- (i.e., that dry hands in a shorter amount of timeflush toilets, automatic faucets and soap quire considerably less attention than paper than older models) do not draw an exorbitantdispensers are all readily available. The towel dispensers. And unlike paper, which amount of electricity at all. To assure this,added benefits are improved hygiene, less can cost $15-$30 or more per case, the en- you’ll want a model that requires less overalloverall product waste and significant cost ergy costs of using a hand dryer amount to operating time to dry hands effectively. Forsavings. pennies per day. example, new model hand dryer run on 15 Hand dryers cost much less overall, par- amp service and uses 80 percent less energyMyth 2: Hand Dryers ticularly when you consider the costs of la- than other models. Hands-free dryers with mo-Don’t Dry Hands Effectively bor. Quality hand dryers are virtually tion sensors cannot be “overused” by patrons, Older generations of hand dryers have maintenance-free, except for a recom- so waste is effectively minimized.contributed to the poor reputation that chal- mended annual cleaning. Paper towels, bylenges the industry today. Simply put, hand comparison, require one hour of mainte- Myth 5: Hand Dryers are Difficultdryers don’t do what they’re supposed to: nance for each case of towels used. Paper to Install and MaintainDry hands in a reasonable amount of time. towels must be replaced frequently, and This of course varies from model to The ineffectiveness of typical hand dryers picked up, damp, from floors and other sur- model, vendor to vendor, but overall, handlies in the flawed design of most early mod- faces to be disposed of properly. Towels dryers that are properly built should in-els, and those flaws continue in many exist- are more subject to vandalism by mischie- stall quite easily and operate virtuallying dryers today. The idea was that a warm, vous users of public restrooms. Finally, maintenance-free, unlike paper towel dis-steady stream of air would evaporate the wa- hand dryers are virtually always available pensers. Some older hand dryer modelster on hands, much as a hair dryer dries hair. for use, while paper towel dispensers are were designed to be recessed into theUnfortunately, the time factor was not given frequently empty, jammed or otherwise bathroom wall, requiring a significantadequate consideration. Most people in a non-functioning. amount of labor to install. Many modernpublic restroom are not patient enough to models are instead surface-mounted andspend the time required for complete water Myth 4: Paper Towels are Better can be installed at various designatedevaporation to take place. Additionally, for the Environment Than Hand heights quite easily.many patrons do not rub their hands vigor- Dryers Quality dryer models do not require muchously below the dryers, which brush away Although paper towels do not consume mechanical attention or repair to work prop-excess water droplets. electricity in their use, they consume a great erly. John Donahue, the Building superin- When my company set out to improve deal of energy to be fabricated in the first tendent at the Massachusetts Conventionthe hand dryer, we collaborated with a re- place. According to the Environmental Pro- Center Authority, is in charge of the re-search and development group to find out tection Agency, every single ton of paper pro- stroom maintenance of the Hynes Conven-where most dryers went wrong. We learned duced consumes many more thousands of tion Center, among other facilities withinthat water clings to skin in two ways: as a gallons of water and tons of oil (not to men- the MCCA. The Hynes Center has gradu-thin film against the skin, and as loose tion the two to four tons of trees used to yield ally phased out older models of hand dryersdroplets. that single ton of finished paper). and replaced them entirely with the hand dry- Naturally, the thin film is easier to evap- Paper trash comprises approximately ers, and Donahue has praised their lasting 40 percent of our municipal waste in con-orate than the larger droplets, but most dry- power and function: “To date, none of theers have to get through those large drops servative estimates. Even recycled paper units have failed, and they get a lot of use,”first, leaving the water film behind. People products require a significant energy cost Donahue says. As long as you choose a ven-who took the time to shake loose the in their production. And there are also the dor with good customer service, installingdroplets, and who rubbed their hands vig- well-documented environmental costs of and maintaining dryers should not presentorously below the dryer, tended to get bet- paper fabrication: deforestation, pollution much of a problem.ter results than those who did not, so we and contaminated sediments in nearby The myths simply don’t hold up: handfactored that in as well. sources of water, air pollution from pulp dryers save more money and are more en- We developed a more focused, stream- and paper mills (including carbon dioxide, vironmentally sound than paper towels.lined nozzle that would direct high-velocitynitrous oxides, sulfur dioxides, carbon With the improvements made to the tech-air at the hands, blowing away the loose monoxides and particulates), and solid nology, hand dryers are no longer as cum-droplets and breaking up the layer of water waste production. bersome and ineffective as popularlyvapor between the air and the skin, allow- In other words, though paper towels may thought. The more people encounter effi-ing it to evaporate more rapidly. The resultnot plug into an electrical source them- cient models, the faster the tune of popularwas a hand dryer that did its job in a very selves in order to work, they consume a wisdom and opinion changes. Kshort amount of time: between 10 and 15 great deal of electricity and natural re- Denis Gagnon is president of Excelseconds at most. sources during production, and leave a Dryer, Inc. and the inventor of XLERA- great deal of waste behind. Cutting back TOR, the fast energy efficient hand dryer.Myth 3: Hand Dryers are More on paper waste is an imperative for any or- For more information about XLERA-Expensive Than Paper Towels ganization hoping to become more envi- TOR, visit the company’s Web site at Certainly, any model of hand dryer is go- ronmentally sound and it is one of the www.exceldryer.com. Building Services Management | www.bsmmag.com

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