With my hands still wet, I have many times had to literally flee out of public bathrooms in order to escape the ear-achingly loud super fast hand dryers.
A new study from researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, suggests that – while super fast hand dryers may dry your hands in seconds – they in fact have the same impact on the human ear as a road drill at close range. A noise level that can be highly damaging to people’s ears.
The researchers performed an acoustic test in an environment that resembled that of a public bathroom and found that the dryers reached decibel levels 11 times higher than those reached in product testing labs.
According to Dr John Levack Drever, Head of Sound Practice research at Goldsmiths, the noise created by the dryers was being “vastly amplified in the highly reverberant and reflective small toilet”.
There are numerous groups of people who suffer from the excessive noise, and they are therefore practically being excluded from many public spaces. The dryers can be very damaging to the ears of newborns. They can cause great stress and discomfort to sufferers of tinnitus and hyperacusis, and to elderly dementia sufferers. They can affect the navigation of visually-impaired people. They may force hearing-aid users to turn their devices off when entering public bathrooms. Many others get stressed and anxious by the loud noise.
The research team at Goldsmiths concluded that manufacturers need to test their products in more realistic environments, rather than in “‘ultra-absorbent acoustic laboratories”.
“We propose that engineers, sound artists and users come together to look at the acoustic space in which these dryers are found and tune the products accordingly to enhance the listening experience and minimize the discomfort”, Dr Levack said.
With a tad more empathy shown by the people buying and installing these super fast hand dryers, it should become clear that there are sufficient reasons for them to be banned until quieter versions are available.
Let’s stick to paper towels or less noisy dryers so that going to a public bathroom won’t be a stressful and even potentially physically harmful experience.
Do you agree? Have you personally been negatively affected by encountering excessively loud hand dryers in public spaces? Please, comment below.