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Kimberly-Clark Professional warns of dangers of forced air and electric hand dryers

Kimberly-Clark Professional accelerates the release of hand hygiene information content and offers its expertise by creating a hand-drying site to provide advice on hand towels to be preferred and highlight the dangers associated with the use of pulsed and electric air hand dryers (Jads).

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised consumer awareness of the importance of hand hygiene and the risks of the spread of germs. Nearly 95% of adults do not wash their hands long enough to thoroughly clean bacteria and viruses, so germs can stay on their hands after washing(1).

While the emphasis has been placed on regular and adequate hand washing, Kimberly-Clark Professional wants to address the crucial issue of hand drying that is as important as washing: how to properly dry hands?

To better understand the importance of the subject and to enable as many people as possible to understand the truth about the danger posed by the use of pulsed and electric hand dryers for hygiene, Kimberly-Clark Professional brings its expertise based on scientific studies:

"Scientific studies have shown that paper towels are the most hygienic option for hand drying, but the dangers of alternative drying methods raise concerns,"says Elise Gouveia, France Business Director, Kimberly-Clark Professional. Pulsed air hand dryers can spread germs and bacteria if they are present on wet hands. In this time of unprecedented health crisis, it is essential to address all the critical points of germs in order to provide a safer and more hygienic environment. It is therefore important that users are fully informed of the hygiene risks posed by hand dryers and can read the results of scientific studies before using or purchasing this type of hand dryer. »

According to Kimberly-Clark Professional, supporting evidence, "Research shows us some highlights about pulsed air hand dryers that could be used as a sneeze that lasts 12 seconds, the time of the hand drying cycle of this type of device."

Kimberly-Clark Professional recalls that:

  • A pulsed air hand dryer sprays up to 2 meters(2) into the air water droplets that may contain germs on the hands. These aerosol bacteria can survive up to 15 minutes in the air. Pulsed air hand dryers can increase the level of bacteria on the fingers by up to 42%(3).
  • A hand dryer spreads 1300 times more germs than a paper towel(4).
  • Even with Hepa filters, as well as careful cleaning and maintenance, pulsed air hand dryers don't leave hands and toilets as clean as paper towels,
  • After 15 minutes, there are 100 times more particles left in the air when using pulsed air hand dryers compared to single-use paper towels(5). This finding is all the more alarming when we know that these particles could be about the height of a small child's face(6). Drying with paper towels reduces bacteria on the fingers by up to 77%(7).
  • The interior surfaces of pulsed air hand dryers can contain up to 48 times more bacteria than a toilet seat(8). The results of a study by the University of Westminster revealed that pulsed and hot air hand dryers can harbour bacteria on indoor surfaces. This could lead to cross-contamination if users penetrate their hands inside and touch the surface of the unit or if bacteria are transported into the air current and deposited on wet hands(9).

For hygienic hand drying, use single-use paper towels

Taking all these facts into account, WHO recommendations for hand hygiene in health recommend paper towels for hand drying.

According to Kimberly-Clark Professional, hand towels offer "the best solution for hand hygiene and general hygiene in sanitary facilities."

A recent study found that 90% of people using sanitary facilities prefer paper towels when they have a choice between single-use paper hand towels and pulsed air handdryers (11). This study showed that paper towels consistently outperformed all other drying techniques, particularly with respect to bacteria left on the palms of the hands and fingertips(12).

"With the current emphasis on the importance of hand hygiene, we believe it is essential to share these facts based on scientific studies so that clients can make informed decisions,"says Elise Gouveia. Youtake into account your hand hygiene throughout the day and the items you touch - from car ruffles to lifting buttons. Ask yourself not only how many times you washed and dried your hands, but also how did you wash and dry your hands and for how long. The science is clear, and the official WHO guidelines are clear: dry your hands carefully with a single-use paper towel; Use the towel to turn off the faucet. your hands are now clean. (13)"

(1) Borchgrevink, P.C., Cha, J. and Kim, S., 2013. Hand washing practices in a college town environment. Journal of Environmental Health, 75(8), p.18.; Hand Washing Practices in a College Town Environment, Journal of Environmental Health; https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr5116.pdf: Boyce JM, Pittet D, Centers for Disease Control Guideline for hand hygiene in health-care settings. Recommendations of the healthcare infection control practices advisory committee and the HICPAC/SHEA/APIC/IDSA hand hygiene task force. Society for Healthcare epidemiology of America/Association for professionals in infection control/infectious diseases Society of America. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2002;51 (RR-16):1-48.

(2/4/5) - P.T. Kimmitt - K.F. Redway, "Evaluation of the Potential for Virus Dispersal During Hand Drying: A comparison of Three Methods," Journal of Applied Macrobiology 120 (2016)

(3) – Eurofins-Inlab study (2012)

(6) - E.L. Best, K. Redway, "Comparison of Different Hand-Drying Methods: The Potential for Airborne Microbe Dispersal and Contamination," Journal of Hospital Infection 89 (2015)

(7) - University of Westminster, "Changes in the number of different types of bacteria on the hands before and after using drying paper towel, continuous cloth roller towel, warm air dryer and jet air dryer" (2010)

(8) – Eurofins-Inlab study (2012)

(9) - University of Westminster, "Changes in the number of different types of bacteria on the hands before and after using drying paper towel, continuous cloth roller towel, warm air dryer and jet air dryer" (2010)

(10) - Huang C, Ma W, Stack S, "The Hygienic Efficacy of Different Hand-Drying Methods: A Review of the Evidence," Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2012; 87(8): 791-798. And World Health Organization 'Global Hand Washing Guidelines'

(11) – ETS Observational Study, ISSA/Interclean Amsterdam (May 2016)

(12) - Snelling AM, Saville T, Stevens D, Beggs CB, "Comparative evaluation of the hygienic efficacy of an ultra-rapid hand dryer vs conventional warm air hand dryers," Journal of Applied Microbiology 2010; 110: 19-26

(13) – World Health Organization, Global Hand Washing Guidelines

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