The Importance of Personal Hygiene Essay Example
“If that bug gets out of there… 260 million Americans’ll be dead or dying.” – Gen. Donald McClintock (Outbreak).
Carly Cassella wrote an article entitled, “Here's the Gross Truth about Bathroom Hand Dryers.” It was published on the Science Alert Website on April 13, 2018. The article discusses the unsanitary conditions of using hand dryers in public restrooms. In her article, “Here's the Gross Truth about Bathroom Hand Dryers,” Carly Cassella makes the case that restroom hand dryers are unsanitary, using scientific data and facts, although she suggests that all the bacteria they produce may not be bad for you.
The article discusses how gross restroom hand dryers are using concrete scientific data and facts from a well-known scientist, who uses his own research to make a change at his university. Cassella starts the article by warning people who are germophobes to stop reading the article. She then discusses how the hand dryers can be “whirlpools of faecal matter” (Cassella). She explains how the faecal matter gets into the hand dryers followed by explaining how the poop and bacteria infests the hand dryers and then disseminate the bacteria to the hands of users. The article discusses an experiment conducted by researchers at University of Connecticut, using petri dishes placed under hand dryers. She discusses the results stating, “The researchers concluded that "many kinds of bacteria, including potential pathogens and spores, can be deposited on hands exposed to bathroom hand dryers."” (Cassella), and how it caused one of the researchers to swear off hand dryers forever, as well as, talk to the university, and now the university offers both hand dryers and paper towels.
Casella does include information that suggests that using hand dryers is not as bad as most people think. She also states that there is not a real difference between either option. She tells of a viable solution for using hand dryers, which is “retrofitting hand dryers with HEPA air filters” (Cassella). This “reduced bacterial colonies four times over” (Cassella). She returns to her thesis, stating that bacteria will get on the users hands whether they use hand dryers or paper towels.
Cassella lets the reader know that “when someone flushes an open toilet, little bits of poop and bacteria can be thrown as high as 15 feet (4.5 metres) into the air.” This is alarming. Much more alarming is the fact that “a new study has found that those little bits of poop and bacteria can be sucked up by warm hand dryers and blown straight onto your freshly washed hands” (Cassella).
This statement rings true for me because I have always felt that germs and other things (what I now know to be faecal matter), would fly through the air and float into the hand dryers. I never knew how, but I always had that suspicion. Her words ring true for me because she provides scientific proof for this fact. This makes the use of the hand dryers unsanitary, and makes it even worse for me. Faecal matter has bacteria, it travels through the air, and being sucked in by the warm air, then is housed in the hand dryer until an unsuspecting person comes along and uses the hand dryer. The hand dryer blows the faecal matter and bacteria onto the user’s hands, as well as out into the air, recreating the cycle, adding more bacteria to the infestation that is occurring in the hand dryer.
Have you ever looked in a hand dryer? It is nasty in there.
Depending on what kind of bacteria is being dispersed, any level of sickness can be released into the air on all who are in the restroom. And if the 1995 movie Outbreak is any indication, airborne bacteria can cause an outbreak, infecting all who breathe in the putrid air. Just think, if there is no paper towel to use to hold the door handle as you exit the restroom, your clean hands have just touched the petri dish that is the door handle. Gross!
The results of the study conducted by the researchers at the University of Connecticut was so alarming that it caused the head researcher, Peter Setlow to stop using hand dryers. Cassella writes, “The results are so yuck that Setlow himself has officially sworn off hand dryers.” This is a powerful statement. I, too, want to swear off hand dryers, but I felt that it was a weird thing to do, since many restrooms have hand dryers. This article, solidifies my notion of swearing them off. If hand dryers are so horrible that a scientist would stop using them, then, I know I was right about my thoughts. In all honesty, though, this is not practical, no matter how bad I want to do so. There is not always an alternative to using hand dryers. If the restroom has no paper towel dispenser, then, I am on my own. I could use my shirt, but that is improbable because it would mess my shirt up. I could use hand sanitizer, but I do not feel that that is as sanitary as washing your hands with soap and water. So, while I agree with this notion, it is a hard thing to do.
I have developed a solution, if it is an eating place and I know that they have only hand dryers. I grab a handful of their napkins before going to the restroom, which gives me “paper towels” to dry my hands, as well as “paper towel” to use on the door as I exit the restroom. It is not the best solution for all places, but it works when I need to wash my hands before I eat. I certainly do not want bacteria on my hands as I eat.
Cassella makes the assertion that “exposure to bacteria is an important part of building up your immune system so that you can live a long and healthy life.” I find this to be valid, and it has been proven that this is true. An article posted on the Loyola University Health System website states, “Scientists have long known that certain types of bacteria boost the immune system. Now, Loyola University Health System researchers have discovered how bacteria perform this essential task.” The article suggests that we need certain bacteria called commensal bacteria to help boost the immune system. In modern times, people are so germophobic that they do not allow their children to be exposed to bacteria that can help them, which is vital to the health of the body. As the Loyola University study says, “Studies by other researchers have found that mice raised in sterile, germ-free environments have poorly developed immune systems,” giving proof that what Cassella writes is true: we need bacteria to help our immune system. Despite this, I do not think that getting these bacteria in the bathroom is a good idea.
Cassella makes an outlandish statement... “…while previous studies have found that bathroom hand dryers have the potential to spread diseases, the chances of this happening are not drastically higher because you’re in a bathroom.” I beg to differ. There are so many ways that germs are dispersed through a restroom that the restroom is certainly a cesspool that can be hazardous to people. Cassella herself stated that the waste we deposit in the restroom has bacteria and germs, but there are more germs and bacteria to go around.
When you touch the door of a stall in the restroom, there are germs on there. When you sit on the toilet, there are germs there. Think about it for a moment… When you touch the toilet paper holder in the stall, there are germs there. If you need to touch the trashcan in the stall, there are germs there. If you need to flush the toilet, the handle on the toilet is contaminated. When you go to wash your hands, the sink handle is full of bacteria and germs, again, think about it for a moment. Then, you must use a hand dryer that is full of bacteria. Lastly, as you leave the restroom with freshly washed hands, you must touch the door handle, which has been touched by people who have either washed or not washed their hands. I dispute what Cassella says, exposure to bacteria in the restroom is drastically high.
Cassella suggests that paper towels may not be a better alternative. I find this statement conflicting. She writes, “Nor is it completely clear if paper towels are a better alternative.” The next paragraph that follows causes confusion for the reader. She writes, “While some past studies have found that paper towels are more sanitary, other independent studies have found no significant difference between the bacterial colonies bestowed by paper towels and those bestowed by hand dryers.” I feel that her article disputes her claim. All the evidence in the article states that hand dryers produce bacteria, as well as release bacteria into the air. Her own statements show that hand dryers blow bacteria into the air and onto people’s hands. The Mayo Foundation even declares that paper towel is safer. An article published by The Jersey Penn Company says, “In 2012 the Mayo Foundation for Medical Research actually said “From a hygiene point of view, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers.”” So, if the Mayo Foundation says paper towels are safer, then paper towels are safer.
Casella presents the notion that there is no real difference in the amount of bacteria that is transferred whether you use paper towel or hand dryers. She writes, “While some past studies have found that paper towels are more sanitary, other independent studies have found no significant difference between the bacterial colonies bestowed by paper towels and those bestowed by hand dryers.” I find this statement troubling. First of all, I struggle with the validity of the statement. When using a hand dryer, air is blowing whatever is in the dryer or in the air around and on your hands, adding extra bacteria into the air. But with paper towel, you are not adding extra bacteria in the air. If there is any bacteria, it remains on the paper. Also, the paper goes into the trash can, not back into circulation, like with the hand dryer.
The paper towel also adds an extra layer of protection. As I stated above, you can use paper towel as protection from touching the door handle. Think about this… not everyone washes their hands when they finish using the restroom. Have you ever been in the restroom and heard someone leave without washing their hands? If there is only a hand dryer, I have to use my shirt tail as protection, thereby, contaminating my shirt, and caring around whatever infestation is left on the door handle. Gross!
People can be nasty. The public restroom is a cesspool, but it is a place that we all need to use. Since there is already bacteria and faecal matter in there, we do not need to add any extra bacteria into the air. The author, clarifies what I already thought about this subject matter, hand dryers are contaminated and nasty. While the author tells us that hand dryers are unsanitary, she offers us a balanced presentation of the information regarding this matter. This subject needs to be discussed because many companies are converting to hand dryers. This could lead to their employees getting sick more often, costing the company more money. I feel that companies should offer both options, giving the user a choice. Weighing the scientific data shown in the article, it is clear that hand dryers are unsanitary.
“You could have stopped the outbreak before it mutated, but you didn’t.” -Col. Samuel Daniels (Outbreak).
You can stop the outbreak before it mutates… Always wash your hands after you use the restroom, use paper towels not; those nasty hand dryers!
Works Cited Page
“3 Reasons To Switch To Paper Towels In Your Restroom.” Penn Jersey Paper, Penn Jersey Paper Co. , 2019, www.pjponline.com/help/infographic/air-dryers-blow-3-reasons-to-switch-to-paper-towels-in-your-businesss-bathroom/.
Cassella, Carly. “Here's The Gross Truth About Bathroom Hand Dryers.” ScienceAlert, 13 Apr. 2018, www.sciencealert.com/bathroom-hand-dryers-spread-bacteria.
Loyola University Health System. "How bacteria boost the immune system." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2010. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100614171907.htm.
“Outbreak Quotes.” Movie Quotes, Movie Quotes Database, 2019, www.moviequotedb.com/movies/outbreak.html.