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National Survey Finds Nearly All Adults Say They Wash Their Hands After Visiting Public Restrooms, But Most Think They Are Exception
Date:6/5/2009

harm than good when it comes to reducing bacteria in public washrooms," said Kapalko.

"Controlled experiments conducted in December 2008 by scientists at the University of Westminster found that paper towel drying reduced the average number of bacteria on the finger pads by up to 76 percent and on the palms by up to 77 percent," Kapalko said. "By comparison, electric hand dryers actually caused bacteria counts to actually increase."

Test results of the Westminster study showed:

  • Traditional warm air dryers increased the average number of bacteria by 194 percent on the finger pads and by 254 percent on the palms.
  • Jet air dryers increased the average number of bacteria on the finger pads by 42 percent and on the palms by 15 percent.

As for contamination, the tests found the jet air dryer was capable of blowing micro-organisms from the hands and the unit and potentially contaminating other washroom users and the washroom environment up to 6.6 feet away. Use of a traditional warm air hand dryer spread micro-organisms up to 31.5 inches from the dryer. Paper towels showed no significant spread of micro-organisms.

Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service on behalf of SCA Tissue North America between Feb. 26 and March 2, 2009, among 2,516 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. Results were weighted as needed for region, age within gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey results and a full methodology statement, please contact Tom Lyon
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SOURCE SCA Tissue
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