Paper towels – are they effective in hand hygiene?

Hand Hygiene is an important aspect in day to day life. Lot of studies has been published on paper towels versus hand dryers/ fabric made towels.In a study published in J Applied Microbiol(2013:115:572-582), it has been found  that there is no significant difference  in the airborne dispersal of bacteria between the jet air dryer and paper towels. The most important factor is washing hand properly and if one is working in health care industry it is preferable that one uses alcohol and not soap and water. So, the big question is why paper towels are used everywhere  and at what cost?

If one thinks how paper is produced, even a child knows that paper is produced from trees. So, in order to produce paper for bathrooms , toilets , kitchen, parlor, we need to grow more trees(commercial forests), cut more tress. But matter does not end here. Resources are needed for cultivation, cutting, logging, milling and transportation of material which eventually turns out to be tissue paper. But this is not the end for paper towels. Paper towels finally need to be destroyed as they produce trash.

No to Paper Towel while hand wash

Burning is against the environmental guidelines. So, only option left is to put them deep in the landfills and that too in plastic bags. According to website Treehugger, using paper towels over the period five years is almost equal to carbon equivalent to car traveling about 9,000 miles. So, paper towels are also  inversely  responsible for global warming, ozone depletion and photochemical smog burden. Most importantly, over the long term paper towels is a costly affair for companies, homes.

But big question is what to use? Hand dryers in public places is very good option but washing technique children and adults need to learn. Health care industry is the place where paper towels has more elaborate roll. But again, alcohol based preparations are quite handy in health industry and should be more often used.