I imagine that all of you have been out in a public place whether it be a restaurant, bar, grocery store, or other location when nature calls. It is not an uncommon scenario. You have probably noticed most places use touchless paper towel dispensers. Some places still have slow blowing semi-warm old school dryers. However, the new trend we are seeing in bathrooms across America are very loud super high-powered cold-air dryer. The idea seems great. No more paper towels which saves trees, cuts costs, and your hands should be dry in 15 seconds. But have you ever thought just how loud these dryers actually are?
Some of these high-power dryers are topping off at 100 decibels-if you have one, two, or three going on at a time you can feel as though you are in a heavy metal concert while in the bathroom. Unfortunately, people with hearing-related issues such as hyperacusis (a disorder that makes people extra sensitive to noise) or tinnitus (a constant ringing of the ears) this environment can be unbearable.
Just to give you an idea of noise level recommendations, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that people who work in a noisy environment keep the noise level below 85 decibels for an 8-hour shift. Since these high power cold-air dryers are coming in around 100 decibels you are probably thinking how much should I be concerned? How much damage could it be doing to my hearing? Well, NOISH recommends less than 15 minutes of exposure at 100 decibels per day so depending on what else you’re doing that day, these dryers could unnecessarily be adding to your exposure time. People who suffer from tinnitus can experience increased ringing in their ears after using these dryers due to the high pressure levels and can make their tinnitus even louder.
Even though these hand dryers will not make you deaf or give you permanent hearing damage it is a good idea to be aware what kind of noise they are producing and avoid them when possible.