A New Addition to BHS Bathrooms Might be Making us Sick
Why an alternate way to dry hands is sparking controversy.
Editor’s note 1/26: The story has been updated to contain new information from Principal Mark Mischke.
While the majority of Buffalo High School’s bathrooms contain paper towel dispensers, the women’s music department bathroom now differs with the new addition of hand dryers. Students are left frustrated with this update.
One of the popular reasons students hesitate to use hand dryers is the question of if it’s sanitary. According to Healthline.com, people who use hand dryers have twenty-seven times more bacteria on their hands as compared to the use of paper towels. In addition to bacteria-filled hands, the germs can be transferred onto clothing. Many students are also displeased with the poor drying capabilities of the dryers.
“I don’t like the new hand dryers because they never fully dry your hands, they take forever, and they are more unhygienic. Paper towels should always be at least an option for people who don’t like the dryers,” says Vivian Grambart ‘25.
Paper towels are quicker for students to use. During passing time the bathrooms can get crowded and hand dryers would only add to the time spent in the bathroom. Paper towels allow multiple people to dry their hands at once, and eliminate wait time.
There are some good things about hand dryers. Hand dryers are much more cost-effective and better for the Earth. They can also decrease the resources needed to keep up with paper towel dispensers. “In general, air dryers use fewer resources than paper towels, since towels constantly need to be produced and transported to users, and eventually take up space in the landfill,” says stanfordmag.medium.com.
“[Along with the decreased waste,] there’s some cost efficiencies as well,” said Principal Mark Mischke. “Paper is more expensive than ever. Getting ahead of a renewable resource like an air dryer also creates some long term financial stability in that particular area.”
Despite the controversy, hand dryers have made their way to the music department’s bathroom and have now reached the lunchroom restrooms.
“We’re testing them out in the four bathrooms for exactly that purpose; to see their effectiveness, their pros and cons, and what [a paper towel-less bathroom] looks like,” Mischke said. “Most schools are switching to [hand dryers], and we see other schools that are changing over, but that doesn’t mean we have to [change as well]. Our buildings and grounds person was looking at what other schools are doing, and how to do it safely but also efficiently. We may [make a change school-wide], but we haven’t made the decision yet.”
Although the four bathrooms are currently hand dryer-exclusive, the decision could be made to provide both hand dryers and paper towels in BHS bathrooms to allow for student preferences.