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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
Dryer 425 x 210.jpg

Efficiency versus health

Are hand dryers the better option?

Taylor University’s hand dryers cause more issues than they solve.

The clear path forward is to bring paper towels back to campus.

Michael Guebert, department co-chair and professor of geology and environmental science,  spoke about their potential health risks.

“[Hand dryers] are less sanitary than paper towels because the air from the dryer is captured from the room and pushed through the heater and the fan, concentrating any airborne germs,” he said.

However, some professors say the good of hand dryers may outweigh their deficits. They argue that their efficiency and ease of maintenance benefit the University.

Phil Grabowski, assistant professor of sustainable development, commented on the efficiency of Taylor’s hand dryers.

“Definitely [hand dryers] have saved a lot of water, energy and landfill space, as well as money for the University,” he said.

Grabowski also discussed how hand dryers aided housekeepers in making less of a mess.

While hand dryers eliminate paper messes, they create new messes such as wet floors and counters.

This all begs the question: Is efficiency or sanitation more important in this instance?

While dryers may save money and energy, they come with an array of health concerns. In a study on hand dryer efficiency by Westminster University, they found that bacteria on the hands increases by 194% when using a warm hand dryer. This is contrasted with a 76% decrease in bacteria when a person dries their hands with a paper towel, combining for an almost 300% difference in bacteria levels.

The contrast is stark.

However, many still argue that the ease of installation and maintenance outweighs the potential pitfalls of hand dryers.

At the end of the day, being environmentally friendly as a Christian is about fostering a better Earth for humans to live on. The potential health issues that hand dryers pose is the opposite of that goal. They lead directly to germs, infectious diseases and other potential risks.

Karen Elsea, dean of nursing, mentioned her struggle with this issue.

“I rarely feel my hands are completely dry after using a hand dryer,” she said. “It takes longer to place them under a dryer than to use a paper towel. Drying the hands well after hand-washing helps to reduce the chance of bacteria growth.”

She spoke further about how paper towels tend to be much more effective in eliminating bacteria than hand dryers are.

The health costs far outweigh the benefits, so are hand dryers really worth it? The short answer is no, unless one wants to risk their well-being.

While they are convenient and low maintenance for the University, Taylor students have expressed their frustration with campus hand dryers for several reasons.

“They’re so loud,” sophomore Winter Nottingham said. “That means we can’t use them during quiet hours in the dorm, so we just have to walk back to our rooms with dripping hands.”

At the end of the day, hand dryers are seen to be ineffective in providing a healthier alternative to paper towels.

They foster more germs than they remove, they are not much more environmentally efficient than hand towels, they are slow and they have led to frustration among students, faculty and staff alike.

Bring back paper towels.