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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 75  |  Page : 90--92

Hand dryer noise in public restrooms exceeds 80 dBA at 10 ft (3 m)


Department of Communication Disorders, Mercy College, New York, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shari Salzhauer Berkowitz
Department of Communication Disorders, SPARC Lab, Mercy College, 555 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry, New York
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.153394

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High airflow hand dryers are found in many public restrooms today. These dryers offer quick and clean hand drying, and are seen as being an environment-friendly alternative to paper towels. However, many new hand dryers are loud, exposing individuals using the facilities as well as those employees who clean the facilities to potentially dangerous noise. Prolonged exposure to high levels of occupational noise can cause damage to hair cells in the cochlea, resulting in varying degrees of noise-induced hearing loss. This study examined the intensity (in dBA) of the noise produced by the air dryers in campus restrooms. Hand dryer peak and average noise was measured with a sound level meter at 2.5 ft, 5 ft, and 10 ft from the dryer. Noise measurements did not decrease as predicted by the inverse-square law, probably because of the reverberative surfaces found in the restrooms. The small sample of hand dryers tested was mostly found to be producing more noise than the manufacturer claimed they would; indeed, none of the dryers would be safe for an 8-h workday exposure. While hand dryers do reduce paper trash, they pose as a different sort of hazard to our environment and population.






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