Hot Air Over Drying Hands

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A lot of hot air is being spent over the paper towels versus hand dryers debate. James Dyson, British super-star inventor of the Airblade hand dryer is up in arms. According to the Guardian, Kimberly-Clark, the U.S. paper towel and Kleenex manufacturer, claim that new research confirms that hand jet air dryers increase the amount of bacteria on our hands. And that paper towels are just as environmentally friendly as the air dryer.

What is the story? This is counter-intuitive to every thing that we have believed for years now.

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Kimberly-Clark commissioned a study which came out with the claims that "jet air dryers increase bacteria on the hands by 42% and harbour bacteria and blow out bacteria by up to two metres."

In addition, they say that "warm air dryers increase bacteria on the hands by 254%." Not surprisingly, they say that "paper towels are the most hygienic "drying format" because they reduce bacteria by up to 77%".

Naturally Dyson erupted and said that the research was "biased and misleading." Dyson says that the Airblade jet air hand dryer uses a filter that removes 99.9% of bacteria present in the air.

He also says that the Airblade's carbon footprint is 70% smaller than that of paper towels. The hand dryer emits 3.29g of carbon dioxide per hand dry compared with 12.48g with a paper towel.

Kimberly-Clark is standing by its claims, as is the University that published the study. Dyson is challenging them to submit to an independent study to verify these results.

In the mean time, the Airblade has some important supporters: the Carbon Trust gave it a low carbon label, big hospitals use them and now one has been installed in Buckingham Palace.

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