Published: Fri, February 09, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Student's Petri Dish Experiment Shows What's Lurking Inside Hand Dryers

Student's Petri Dish Experiment Shows What's Lurking Inside Hand Dryers

Dyson, which makes a popular version of this type of hand dryer, even caught wind of the post and responded with a statement.

Nichole Ward shared a photo on January 30 of a petri dish filled with nasty-looking organisms she says grew in 48 hours after she waved it in a public bathroom hand dryer - the kind you stick your hands down into and draw them out slowly - for three minutes. Yes, three only. DO NOT EVER dry your hands in those things again.

She had previously revealed that it was a Dyson Airblade, however she has since removed the brand's name since the post went viral.

Nichole stressed that she didn't share the post to scare everyone into using paper towels for the rest of their lives, but that she simply did it just to "raise awareness".

What's less clear is how Nichole did it, or whether she followed the correct procedures to create her vile-looking dish, or what her scientific background is.

Those responding to Ward's post - which was shared more than 544,000 times - were shocked by what they saw.

"Ahh! I just used one of those today and on it, it says "the most hygienic" and all I could wonder is what about the air it blows into your face which is contaminated air in the bathroom", Darby Toth commented on Facebook.

Originally, Nichole mentioned in her post that she'd conducted the experiment with a Dyson Airblade. (Sorry environmentalists.) In response to Ward's incident, the company told ABC that it was "very surprised to see these results, and unclear on the methodology employed".

"I stuck the open plate in an enclosed hand dryer of a public bathroom for a total of three minutes".

If a hand dryer is the only option, air-drying may be a safer choice, but then again, the germs and bacteria are probably swirling around in the air.

While the photo may seem alarming, Jason Tetro, a Canadian microbiologist and a visiting scientist at the University of Guelph, says people shouldn't get caught up in the hype of the photo. Their little colonies were just a speck here and a speck there.

Pathogenic fungi and bacteria are those that cause disease. Just wash with water and soap and leave with wet hands.

One of the few independently funded studies on the subject, published by the Mayo Clinic in 2000, found no statistically significant hygienic difference between dryers and paper towels.

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