Radiologist raises deep concern over hand dryers

2020 02 27 19 57 3093 Virus Coronavirus 400

A senior U.K. radiologist has warned that hand dryers in public toilets can release droplets from the novel coronavirus into the air for up to three hours, and they should be banned, according to a report posted on 22 June by the Express national newspaper.

Dr. Charlotte Fowler, a radiologist at Guy's and St Thomas' National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust in London, has written to the government about the issue and started a petition to ban hand dryers, the report stated.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 pneumonia, can survive for three hours as an aerosol. The risk is that people using public bathrooms may not wash their hands 100% effectively and that remaining virus would be distributed through the air via hand dryers, she said.

"Everyone is completely paranoid about anything that involves aerosols around COVID patients in hospitals, so it's a bit strange to me that, although everyone knows hand dryers create aerosols, hand dryer use hasn't been treated with the same level of concern as aerosol-generating procedures in hospitals," noted Fowler, who is also the nuclear medicine and molecular imaging clinical lead for teleradiology reporting firm 4ways Healthcare, based in Hemel Hempstead.

"The aerosols produced by a hand dryer could potentially be just as dangerous as intubating a patient on an intensive treatment unit if someone with the infection uses it," she added.

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