Hand dryer manufacturers are as guilty over noise levels as car manufacturers are on diesel emissions.
Humans are born with only two fears, a fear of falling and loud noises. Natural defenses built into our DNA from before we humans walked on two legs probably.
For those of you not familiar with how noise levels are recorded here goes. If sound over a level of 70 decibels has just a small increase in the scale of +3 decibels (dB) this has double the noise impact. So 73dB is twice as noisy as 70dB. 76dB is twice as loud as 73 and so on.
With regard to hand dryers, some manufacturers put noise levels on their equipment like a badge of honour “only 95dB”. Some manufacturers, like a good car salesman, have more refined tricks “30% quieter than our best-selling model” which sound amazing but that does not mean that the noise level has dropped from 95dB to 66dB more likely to have dropped from 95db to 94db.
This is not the only trick in the book. Noise levels should always be taken 1m from the source, but unless you have arms like an orangutan you will probably be closer than 50cm, even closer if you are under the age of 10? So if noise concerns you download a noise meter app to your phone, and see what the results are.
Another reason that ‘claimed’ noise levels are actually much higher is that the noise is measured before hands are put into the air flow. The faster the airflow the more impactful the noise level. So newer models of both hands-in and hands-under dryers can force the air out at speeds of 400mph. Manufacturers will try all sorts of tricks to get around this and a bit like diesel emissions in a car, whatever noise level you see you can be assured that the reality is very different.
The issue for me with noisy hand dryers, especially in very young children, is that they associate hand washing with something that scares them – noisy hand dryers. Yes, I can hear the cries of “but children need to be exposed to germs and creating compulsive hand washers in the young could cause all sorts of issues in later life”. I agree. But that discussion has to be for another blog.
So with 18.6% of the population in the UK are under the age of 14, maybe it’s about time we considered this key demographic and, very surprisingly, there are only a couple of child friendly hand dryers out there in this $billion global market