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How To be Cleaner and Greener

How to keep your hands clean and green

For as long as one can remember there has been a constant spread of controversial information regarding hand dryers - spreading germs, creating bacteria, the electricity is too expensive, they are too slow, they don't dry your hands fast enough, they are not environmentally green……and so the list continues. This information is spread as fast as the so called germs they talk about, and the reason is capitalism.

As time goes by, more people are becoming educated with regards to being eco friendly and as they become more aware they tend to steer away from the use of paper. In addition, it is a fact that hand dryer usage is far more cost effective than paper.

To try and get rid of these urban legends and come up with correct information for the twentieth century , We have spent many hours reading blogs, studies and tests. There is not one test that can prove that any of the above statements are correct. People tend to like paper so that they can wipe their shoes, hand bags, open the washroom doors, fix their makeup or blow their kids noses, are we the only ones missing the point that the paper towel dispenser is installed for your convenience to dry your hands, and while the consumer is loving all the other perks, the owner of the building is spending an absolute fortune. But of course let's not forget those people that will not touch a hand dryer because a paper company has "planted the seed of fear" into the consumer's brain.

extract taken from: www.globalhandwashingday.org

In observance of Global Hand washing Day, I am continuing my blog on hand washing...

 

I have to admit that sometimes I buy into urban legends, especially if they seem logical. I stopped using warm air hand dryers years ago after hearing "somewhere" that some "study" found that microbes get sucked in and blown right back out onto your hands. In public restrooms, I always opted for paper towel drying over automatic hand dryers.

Curiosity finally got the best of me, when I visited a museum last weekend and found that the bathrooms only had warm air dryers and no paper towels! After coming home, I looked up medical research papers on the use of hand dryers vs. paper towels and found that the vast majority of research has shown that there is no difference between using paper towels and warm air dryers in terms of removing bacteria! In fact, a study from the Mayo Clinic showed that there is no difference in removing bacteria from washed hands using paper towels, warm air dryers, air drying, or cloth towel dispensers.

Proponents of warm air dryers (i.e. manufacturers of warm air dryers) also claim that they are more economical, efficient, and environment-friendly (saves trees).

Am I going to switch teams and start using warm air dryers? I'm not sure yet--Habits are hard to break. But I'm going to stop denouncing warm air dryers.

HAND DRYERS SPREAD GERMS: "The oldest one in the book"

Universities, clinics and individual parties have done lengthy tests to see whether hand dryers spread germs. One test that stood out , was from Mayo clinic in the USA, who has done a randomised trial on the "effects of 4 hand drying methods for removing bacteria from washed hands." These methods included

  1. Hand Dryers
  2. Cloth towels dispensed from a rotary dispenser
  3. Spontaneous room air evaporation
  4. Paper towels from a stack on the hand washing sink
Mayo Clin Proc. 2000 Jul

 

Effects of 4 hand-drying methods for removing bacteria from washed hands: a randomised trial.

Gustafson DR, Vetter EA, Larson DR, Ilstrup DM, Maker MD, Thompson RL, Cockerill FR 3rd.

Division of Clinical Microbiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of 4 different drying methods to remove bacteria from washed hands

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: One hundred adult volunteers participated in this randomized prospective study. All bacterial counts were determined using a modified glove-juice sampling procedure. The difference was determined between the amounts of bacteria on hands artificially contaminated with the bacterium Micrococcus luteus before washing with a no antibacterial soap and after drying by 4 different methods (cloth towels accessed by a rotary dispenser, paper towels from a stack on the hand-washing sink, warm forced air from a mechanical hand-activated dryer, and spontaneous room air evaporation). The results were analyzed using a nonparametric analysis (the Friedman test). By this method, changes in bacterial colony-forming unit values for each drying method were ranked for each subject. RESULTS: The results for 99 subjects were evaluable. No statistically significant differences were noted in the numbers of colony-forming units for each drying method (P = .72).

CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate no statistically significant differences in the efficiency of 4 different hand-drying methods for removing bacteria from washed hands.

"Hand-drying techniques don't affect bacteria control"

However, even though the above study has proven that the four hand drying methods do not increase or decrease the bacteria already on your hands. It does make you think that the paper that is left lying on the floor after some lazy user missed the bin and walked out, would not be the ideal germ free environment.

1. ELECTRICITY IS TOO EXPENSIVE: And using paper is cheaper???

Hand dryers spreading germs in now so old that the new selling tip is that the hand dryer is going to cost you far too much in electricity. This is the recent study: April 2010 (paper cost based on average purchasing price)

2KW Hand Dryer

Paper

(Calculated on usage every 50 seconds
For an 8 hour day)
(Calculated on usage every 50 seconds
for an 8 hour day, using ONE sheet of paper)
50 seconds dry - R0.03c 1 Hand Dry - R0.10c
Per hour - R2.20c Per hour - R6.52c
Per day - R17.6c Per day - R52.16c
   

Information provided from:

    • The electricity customer support service centre, Cape Town: 0800 224 440
    • Calculations done at www.renewableenergy.co.za

    The above study is worked out on the user, using just ONE sheet of paper. We are all very aware that the majority of people would use more than this. As far as wasting electricity is concerned then we would also need to think about the paper towel manufacturing process which takes twice the amount of time and energy, compared to manufacturing a hand dryer.

    2. HAND DRYERS ARE TOO SLOW

    Hand dryers have come a long way since they were first bought onto the market. Today's hand dryers come in all different sizes and of course the airflow varies. Our top of the range hand dryer is extremely powerful and dries your hands within 30 seconds. There is definitely an increase in people using hand dryers now that they are faster.

    3. GO GREEN - ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

    Vortice introduced a new range of hand dryers taking into consideration eco friendly and energy efficient manufactured products. All the materials used to produce these products can be recycled according to RoHS and WEEE standards. This is a huge plus as there is no worry about over loading the landfills. As you will see below, filling the landfills is just one worry, what about water pollution during manufacturing, air pollution during transportation and of course the most important of all would be that we are losing trees - there is absolutely no need to destroy thousands of trees, pollute gallons of water and fill meters of landfill each year when there is a perfectly eco-friendly solution - Hand dryers.

    "Fact: one ton of paper consumes 17 trees"; "Fact: one ton of paper consumes three cubic yards of landfill"; "Fact: one ton of paper production pollutes 20,000 gallons of water". It adds with relish that a typical fast-food restaurant in the US uses 25-35 cases of 4,000 multifold paper towels a year leading to [329kg-460kg] of "unnecessary waste". But perhaps the best example of its claims is this: "A typical school without electric hand dryers might use five tons of paper towels or the equivalent of 89 trees!" In other words, "use our dryers or the forest gets it."

    So next time you use three pieces of paper towel to dry your hands think of the above, and how you save the environment.

    Both hand dryers and paper towels carry an environmental cost, so the Lantern's peers typically advise folks to wipe their hands on their trousers. But if you fancy yourself too classy to walk around in damp pants, then hand dryers are, indeed, the greener option because they actually use less energy once everything's taken into account.
    Now that all the above points have been cleared up we can take a look at the pros of purchasing hand dryers opposed to the cons of purchasing paper towels

     

    • Vortice hand dryers have a life span of 15 -20 years, therefore a one off purchase and payment is far more cost effective than any other hand drying method.
    • A one off payment lessens the load on the accounts department and saves time.
    • Dryers save time and money, in that no reordering, distribution or storage is required.
    • Dryers are a cost saving in that no additional staff, need to be employed to replenish empty paper dispensers and /or saves time for staff who are employed to clean the washrooms.
    • No temptation to pilfer the paper or use it for other purposes. Staff or public.
    • Washrooms are kept litter free, which is more hygienic.
    • Garbage disposal is minimized which also results in a cost saving in time and money.
    • As people become more eco aware, the sale of hand dryers is increasing and the pressure on paper suppliers increases, resulting in the untrue and ill informed reports of hand dryers spreading germs. We have literature on tests done by bacteriologists around the world that disprove this point and these are available for anyone who would like to read the tests.
    • In order to be even more eco friendly, Vortice has launched a range of hand dryers with a lower wattage in order to save energy and have increased the airflow.

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