Noisy Hand Dryers in Bathrooms

A spate of articles recently (ahem, last month) came out discussing a major problem we have in the first world – that of noisy hand dryers. The articles were spurred by the release of a study (which I can’t find online) by Dr John Drever of Goldsmiths, University of London. As mentioned in the Telegraph article:

An acoustic test found the sound decibels reached by the dryers was 11 times higher in a typical public toilet than in product testing laboratories.

11 times louder! Does that mean it’s as loud as 11 toilets flushing? I wonder where I could go to hear 11 toilets flushing at the same time.

Here’s a list of the problems that the Boots/WebMD article outlined, from the study:

However, a team of sound researchers, led by Dr John Levack Drever of Goldsmiths, University of London, have found that the noise levels from super-fast cold-air hand dryers are loud enough to:

  • Cause discomfort for elderly people with dementia
  • Affect the navigation of visually impaired people
  • Force hearing aid users to turn off their devices when entering public toilets
  • Cause discomfort to people with hyper-acute hearing, a condition often found in people on the autistic spectrum
  • Make mothers reluctant to use dedicated baby-changing or breast-feeding provisions located near hand dryers

Acoustical Prof Trevor Cox at the University of Salford has also weighed in on the problem, coming from another angle at the problem, suggesting that the acoustics of the washroom space should also be designed to reduce the noise from the dryer, both near the source, and for other people nearby.

I say don’t use ’em. Wipe your hands on your pants. 🙂

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