Having previously investigated the dispersal by different hand drying methods of a chemical indicator, fungi and bacteria on the hands of users, this new study assessed the potential for viral dispersal.
To determine differences between hand drying methods in their capacity to disperse viruses on the hands of users to other occupants of public washrooms and into the washroom environment.
A harmless virus was used to artificially contaminate the hands of participants prior to using three different hand drying devices (jet air dryer, warm air dryer, paper towel dispenser). Viral dispersal was assessed at different heights and distances from the hand drying devices and also at different times after use by means of an air sampler.
The jet air dryer was shown to produce significantly more dispersal of virus than the warm air dryer or paper towels. After use of the jet air dryer, high numbers of virus were detected at a range of heights with maximum numbers between 0.61 and 1.22 metres. Virus was also detected at distances of up to 3 metres from the jet air dryer and in the air for up to 15 minutes after its use. The warm air dryer and paper towel dispenser produced low or zero viral counts at different heights, different distances and times after use.
Jet air dryers have a greater potential than other hand drying methods to disperse viruses on the hands and contaminate other occupants of a public washroom and the washroom environment.