Hand dryers. They are easy, convenient, and help stop the creation of waste. But when it comes to the health of children’s ears, are hand dryers doing more harm than good?
A 13-year-old researcher says yes.
According to NPR, Nora Keegan from Calgary, Canada decided to take a closer look at how hand dryers affect the eardrums of children after she experienced discomfort every time she used one:
“Sometimes after using hand dryers, my ears would start ringing. I also noticed that children would not want to use hand dryers, and they’d be covering their ears.”
So, at the ripe age of 9 years old, Keegan began testing the volume of over 40 dryers located in public bathrooms.
By measuring the height at which the dryers hung on the wall and using a professional decibel meter to measure the volume of the dryers, Keegan tested to see if and how a hand dryer could damage the sensitive ears of a child.
Congratulations to #CYSF2019 @TedRogersFund award winner, Nora Keegan, who’s ongoing research into the loudness of automated hand dryers in public places was published in the Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health! #makemorepossible pic.twitter.com/gKUcaqCi5c
— YYC Science Fair (@ScienceFairCYSF) June 19, 2019
Keegan told NPR:
“Hand dryers are actually really, really loud, and especially at children’s heights since they’re close to where the air comes out.”
What she found was that certain types of dryers, like Dyson and Xlerator, can reach over 100 decibels. Keegan wrote that sounds over 100 decibels can lead to “learning disabilities, attention difficulties, and ruptured eardrums” in children.
“My loudest measurement was 121 decibels from a Dyson Airblade model. And this is not good because Health Canada doesn’t allow toys for children to be sold over 100 decibels, as they know that they can damage children’s hearing.”
According to ASTM International, the safe limit for any toy sold is 85 decibels.
Now, Dyson is planning to send an acoustics engineer to meet with Nora to discuss the results of her findings. Xlerator did not respond to NPR’s request for comment.
Keegan hopes that her findings will lead to regulations on the volume of hand dryers.