Study Shows Public Hand Dryers Operate at Dangerously Loud Levels

Research finds effects on adults and children

While it’s been established that public washrooms contain hand dryers that often operate at levels dangerous to adults’ hearing, no one had researched the effects on the ears of children, which are notoriously more sensitive to damage from loud sounds.

But a recent article in Paediatrics & Child Health confirms that these same hand dryers are not only damaging to children, but may be operating above the legally allowed limits for volume.

Researchers examined 44 hand dryers in public washrooms were each measured for peak sound levels in a standardized fashion, including a children’s ear canal heights. Each dryer was measured at 10 different combinations of heights and distances from the wall, and with and without hands in the air stream coming from the hand dryer, for a total of 20 measurements per dryer.

Health Canada prohibits the sale of products and toys meant for children with peak loudness above 100 dB, but many of the hand dryers in this study exceeded that level, with a high of 121 dB. It wasn’t immediately clear whether hand dryers were subject to the same laws. 

SOURCE: Oxford Academic

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