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Hot air and washroom viruses

Sometimes history repeats itself. Sadly, this also applies in the times of the coronavirus. A situation in which proper hand hygiene is more important than ever. The crucial importance of hand hygiene and the role paper towels play in it was already proven in 2017 in a multi-centre study conducted by British scientists

Back then, the washrooms at three European hospitals in France, Great Britain and Italy were tested for colony-forming units (CFU). (See our previous article). The aim was to find out to what extent air dryers and paper towel dryers contribute to or hinder the spread of hazardous germs in dust, on doors, on the floor and on the drain in the hospital washrooms.

The result: The microbial load, or contamination, was generally lower in washrooms operated with paper towels only, in some cases even up to 1.6 times lower. In washrooms with air dryers, not only the floor but also the dryer itself were heavily contaminated.

Fewer air dryers in hospitals around the world

Whether and to what extent these scientific findings concerning the hygienic advantages of disposable paper towels found their way into hospital washrooms at a later time is not certain.

One thing, however, is for sure: numerous hospitals in Poland now only use paper towels from touchless dispensers or have been equipping them accordingly. If insufficiently washed hands are placed in air dryers, "epidemiological bombs" explode in hospital washrooms and other public facilities, say Polish health experts. This is also the case if not only the hands but also (contaminated) clothing is placed in the air dryer or comes into contact with contaminated dryer housings. Even the most thorough hand hygiene does not help in such cases.

Back in 2015, the German Federal Ministry of Health recommended not using air dryers in sensitive locations such as hospitals.

From washing to drying, hand hygiene is the essential protection against infection 

Health experts around the globe recommend thorough hand hygiene, among other things, as a way of helping to bring a good end to the sad story of the coronavirus crisis as soon as possible. It is one of the most important preventive measures against viral diseases and a simple, practical way to interrupt the typical infection path of germs.

Careful and expedient hand hygiene does not stop when shutting off the tap. Drying the hands with paper towels from touchless dispensers verifiably reduces the spread of viruses and contact with contaminated dispenser housings.

Thorough drying and rubbing of the hands removes any remaining germs and put them where they belong: in the waste basket. Using an additional fresh paper towel to touch the handle of washroom doors protects you from fresh contamination when leaving the washroom.
Despite all the current recommendations concerning "social distancing" to protect against contamination, please contact us if you have any questions about thorough hand hygiene or other matters.

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Infographic ETS
Infographic ETS
Drying your hands safely and hygienically

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Scandinavia
Monika van Ettinger
Central Eastern Europe
Piotr Nieradzik
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Boris Parvanov
UK
Alasdair Sharp