They might dry your hands in seconds but ‘super fast’ hand dryers have the same impact on the human ear as a road drill at close range, a study suggests.
Researchers said the dryers can cause discomfort to elderly dementia sufferers, affect the navigation of visually-impaired people and even force hearing aid users to turn their devices off when entering public toilets.
An acoustic test in a typical ‘box shape of a public toilet’ found that the dryers recorded sound decibel levels 11 times higher than those reached in product testing labs, researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London have revealed.
Interviews with members of the public suggested the dryers can have a ‘negative’ impact on those with hearing or sight problems and dementia sufferers, researchers said.
Dr John Levack Drever, head of the unit for sound practice research at Goldsmiths, said the noise created by the dryers was being ‘vastly amplified in the highly reverberant and reflective small toilet’.
He said: ‘A wide range of vulnerable people are being seriously affected by hand dryer noise, resulting in unwelcome stress in this sensitive space, and in extreme cases people are being excluded from public spaces, the workplace and schools.’
“dry in seconds but as noisy as a road drill. Super fast hand dryers may be loud enough to damage peoples hearing.