Saturday, March 5, 2011

Does hand drying cause ear damage?

Has anybody else been encountering those relatively new (at least to me) blow-dry hand dryers that are cropping up in public restrooms? They quite literally blow the older models out of the running when it comes to decreasing drying time.
Super-fast hand dryer*

They also hurt my ears. Curiosity sent me searching the Web. Was the discomfort I was experiencing a symptom of real damage or just irritation on my part? So far, the answer is “Arghhhh! Why don’t they use language a non-engineer can comprehend?”

All of the brands I found information about fell in the 70 to 90 decibel range, with the higher decibel levels potentially causing damage with long-term exposure. Since people don’t ordinarily spend 8 hours or more continuously drying their hands, such exposure is unlikely.

What I couldn’t find in this quick search is whether or not being in a tiny room with one of these monster dryers bouncing sound off the walls actually increases the decibels to a harmful level. Or how about two of these dryers in operation at the same time in a restroom facility that I am sure was actually designed as an echo chamber?

Regardless of what the experts say, I may just add ear plugs to the other “necessities” that I lug around in my purse.

Okay, that was my rant for the day. I am determined that the rest of my weekend shall remain rantless.

*Photo borrowed from manufacturer's Web site here.


  1. Rant on, because this is interesting!! I don't ever use the dryers! I have perfected a way to get in and out of public restrooms without touching anything!! NOTHING! I watched a whole Oprah show some time ago about the germs there, and that did it for me! and by the way, don't ever sit your purse down on the floor in the stall.

  2. OR you could just rub your hands down your jeans or pants or skirt or dress or shorts.... ha ha ho ho get my drift? and they do sound like echo chambers. i love to whistle songs, and when i am alone in one, wow, you should hear how good it sounds. OOPS it might hurt your ears, not sure how loud my whistle is or how many times it would get louder. love the post. a car just went by and our windows are open and i am sure it did some damage while i was typing

  3. I don't use those things. I just don't! If that is my only choice, I shake my hands and wave them around, then I dry the remainder on the legs of my jeans! Seriously, they irritate me with the sound, and they make my hands seem drier (in an "I need hand lotion" way) than paper towels. People look at me funny when I bend over and pat my hands against my shins, but I am old enough to not care! Eccentric is not a bad thing. Is it?

  4. OK, you have convinced me. Jeans or shaking my hands it is. So, if you see me flapping my hands, I'm just air drying.

    But if you see me flailing myself around the head and ears, flapping wildly, I have either gone completely around the bend or I have run into a cloud of Mississippi gnats, those insects that are barely visible and are all teeth. I think they are called no-see-ums in other coastal regions. Oops! i guess that is another mini-rant!

  5. I have run into one of those. I didn't notice the sound as much as I did the skin on my hands actually being blown about. Scary.

  6. The ones I loathe are those where you have to "disappear" your hands down into the bowels of the machine - Yeuch!

  7. The pants have it hands down! I don't think the air dryers actually work very good. Noisy and make me feel like I need hand lotion afterwards.
    Your ending thought about the no-see-ums is funny but true. Flail away!

  8. We do have too much noise these days. I cannot get away from it. Everywhere I go, even the pool where they play old loud music and the instructor yells so we can hear her. With the acoustics of the place, you can imagine the racket. Loud hand dryers I have not encountered lately. Thank Goodness. Dianne