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FEATURE


Let Battle Commence!


Back in November, a study was presented by the European Tissue Symposium demonstrating the spread of bacteria in the washroom. This study, designed by Professor Mark Wilcox of the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals, claimed that jet and warm air hand dryers spread more bacteria into the air, as well as on to users and those nearby, than their paper towel counterparts.


The study in question prompted a fairly large response from those within the cleaning industry, but none more so than from Dyson, creators of one of the most popular and innovative jet air dryers, the Airblade. Such was their dismay with the findings that they invited me down to their Wiltshire- based headquarters to meet with Toby Saville, one of their longest serving microbiologists, to discuss the findings.


With a Harrier Jump Jet parked right outside the front door, it appears that Dyson are prepared to do battle in more ways than one, and it isn’t long before I discover how much of a warzone it has been in the quest for the most hygienic washroom.


“It’s been a running battleground ever since we launched the Airblade,” said Toby. “Before we launched the product, we did a lot of work to try and prove the hygienic elements, because when we started designing the hand dryer, we found that historically, a lot of industries like infection control,


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Last year’s study from the ETS looking at the spread of bacteria in the washroom was met with outrage by some electric hand dryer manufacturers, not least Airblade inventors, Dyson. In a bid to get to the bottom of the arguments, Tomorrow’s Cleaning Editor, Matt Waring, went on a peace-keeping mission to try and resolve the conflict.


hospitals, food prep – hygiene critical areas – wouldn’t touch hand dryers, they had such bad press.


“So we knew it was going to be critical to educate people on why our design was actually quite different. We did a lot of research up front, we got it published, but fairly quickly we found the paper towel industry coming back with some ripostes of their own.”


One of these ripostes, according to Toby, is November’s study from the ETS, which he felt was “full of holes, and really targeted.” He added: “A lot of people in science are looking to prove something when they set up an experiment, but it was very much ‘we need to prove that this product is bad in some way, what can you find?’ and the way it was then presented; they just left the context out of the situation completely.


“I’m not going to knock Professor Wilcox or anyone involved, I don’t doubt that they’re approaching this with some scientific rigour. But it’s been quite frustrating for us, because we’ve paid for a number of studies to be done on comparing our products to other technologies to show what’s good and what’s bad, and we’ve been very careful to set that up scientifically. If there’s something unhygienic about our product, we want to know about it.”


However, following my visit down south, I caught up with Roberto Berardi,


www.tomorrowscleaning.com


“If you think of a hospital environment, if you’ve got a visitor going into a public washroom, using an electric dryer, getting contaminated with norovirus and then going to see a patient with poor immunity, I think it is an issue.”


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