You know the ones. Public restrooms sometimes use them. You stick your wet hands under them and in an hour or so your hand is sort of dry. It never much mattered how long it took or if your hands actually got dry because most of the things were broken anyway.
Times they have changed, though. I noticed this change when -- I forget the larger location (theater, restaurant, library) -- I put my wet hands under one of those things and watched with combined awe and horror my skin practically pull away from my body. It was fascinating, really. I wondered how long I would remain intact. Even more surprising was the realization that my hands were dry. Imagine.
Apparently those machines were developed to save trees (paper towels we used to call them), water, and to keep the washrooms cleaner. All of that is well and good and even quite admirable except for recent information which indicates that all that hot air actually gets us dirtier than we were before we washed our hands.
Here's the low down on that:
-- after washing and drying hands with the warm air dryer, the total number of bacteria was found to increase on average on the finger pads by 194% and on the palms by 254%
-- drying with the jet air dryer resulted in an increase on average of the total number of bacteria on the finger pads by 42% and on the palms by 15%
-- after washing and drying hands with a paper towel, the total number of bacteria was reduced on average on the finger pads by up to 76% and on the palms by up to 77%.
Next time I use a public bathroom I think I will just haul out my own bath towel. I can still save a tree or two. No one will have to empty my trash because the towel will go with me. And I won't have to wonder how securely the skin on my hands really is attached.
Either that or the above quoted study was just a lot of hot air.
Anything's possible, you know.