The Grapevine

Hand Dryers Could Damage Kids’ Ears, 13-Year-Old Scientist Says

You can find hand dryers in many public restrooms. They are useful and works for almost everyone but not for children. 

A new study, published in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health, shows that the machines could actually harm kids. They produce noise that could damage the hearing of children. 

The finding comes from the multi-year effort of a 13-year-old girl from Calgary, Canada. Nora Keegan started studying hand dryers in 2015 and collected data through 2017 from more than 40 public washrooms across the province of Alberta. 

"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."

Keegan started her study when she was 9 years old. She used a professional decibel meter to measure the volume of hand dryers from different heights and distances.

"Hand dryers are actually really, really loud, and especially at children's heights since they're close to where the air comes out," Keegan said. She added children have more sensitive ears than adults. 

Hand Dryers & Their Impact

The study highlighted that hand dryers from Xlerator and Dyson Airblade have the highest effect on children's hearing. 

The machines exceed 100 decibels, which has been linked to "learning disabilities, attention difficulties and ruptured ear drums," the study states. Keegan said she recorded 121 decibels from a Dyson Airblade model as the loudest machine. 

The young researcher cited that Health Canada restricts sale of toys for children that could produce more than 100 decibels due to potential damage to hearing.

Dyson said that an acoustics engineer will discuss the findings with Keegan. Meanwhile, Excel Dryer, which sells Xlerator hand dryers, did not release a statement about the study. 

"While some other units operated at low sound levels, many units were louder at children's ear heights than at adult ear heights," the study states. 

Keegan said she aims to see more research to explore the impact of hand dryers in children. She also encourages the Canadian government to update regulations on the noise levels for the machines. 

Children Health officials restrict sale of toys for children that could produce more than 100 decibels due to potential damage to hearing. Pixabay