Fecal Bacteria in the Hand-Dryers?
A recent issue of Sylvania’s “Potty Press” reported that “The microbiology department on campus has discovered a large infection within the PCC hand dryers of bacteria that originates within the human gut. This means that people are not washing their hands correctly, so remember: soap your hands well and wash them for at least 20 seconds before drying.”
This little story has led to a hub-bub on the Sylvania Faculty and Staff email list. Concerns were raised about the health hazard of having colonies of these bacteria living in the hand-dryers, accompanied by calls to bring back paper towels, or switch the hand-dryers to the type that blow down so that no pools of water gather in them. Concern was also expressed that the news came from the Potty Press, rather than an official college source.
Facilities Management responded with a study conducted for PCC when the dryers were installed, saying there was no bacteria, and complimenting the custodial staff. They also pointed out the considerable savings in paper towels that the dryers provide, as well as a reduction in the number of calls they receive about dirty bathrooms.
Faculty responded by pointing out that the study cited by facilities management tested only for one bacteria, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. That is normally found on the skin (and is a leading cause of food poisoning.) However, S. Aureus is not a ‘gut’ bacteria, so it was not the one found in the recent study.
The Bridge has requested copies of both of the studies, and will continue to follow this story.