You can find hand dryers in pretty most public restrooms nowadays. And while they certainly are useful tools for people, they shouldn’t be used by or near children.
A recent study published in the Canadian journal Paediatrics & Child Health has found that the machines could actually prove harmful for the ears of children.
The discovery was made by a 13-year-old girl from Calgary, Canada. Nora Keegan began studying hand dryers back in 2015 (she was only 9 at the time) and has been collecting data from more than 40 public restrooms across Alberta through 2017.
“Sometimes after using hand dryers my ears would start ringing,” she told NPR. “I also noticed that children would not want to use hand dryers, and they’d be covering their ears.”
Кееgan used a professional decibel meter to accurately measure the volume of hand dryers from different distances and heights.
“Hand dryers are actually really, really loud, and especially at children’s heights since they’re close to where the air comes out,” she said.
Keegan added that the ears of children are more sensitive than those of adults.
Congratulations to #CYSF2019 @TedRogersFund award winner, Nora Keegan, who’s ongoing research into the loudness of automated hand dryers in public places was published in the Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health! #makemorepossible pic.twitter.com/gKUcaqCi5c
— YYC Science Fair (@ScienceFairCYSF) June 19, 2019
The impact of hand dryers
The research pinpointed that hand dryers from manufacturers Dyson Airblade and Xlerator have the highest negative effect on children’s hearing.
“My loudest measurement was 121 decibels from a Dyson Airblade model,” Keegan said. “And this is not good because Health Canada doesn’t allow toys for children to be sold over 100 decibels, as they know that they can damage children’s hearing.”
In an email to NPR, Dyson Airblade said that Keegan’s findings will be discussed with one of their acoustics engineers. Excel Dryer, which sells Xlerator hand dryers, however, did not comment on the study.
The ambitious young scientist’s aim is to do more research to further explore the impact of hand dryers on children. Keegan also encourages the Canadian government to update the regulations on the noise levels for such machines.
What are your thoughts on Nora Keegan’s discovery? Share them with us in the comment section below.
Cover image: Courtesy of the Keegan family
Nora Keegan, then in the fifth grade, presents her research findings in 2016.