This 8th Grader’s Science Experiment Questions Why Hand Dryers Hurt Kids’ Ears

hand dryer

If you're a parent, then chances are you know the fear. The fear of loud hand dryers in public restrooms that seems to affect some kids. Many public bathrooms have the loud hand dryers affixed to the walls, and many children refuse to use them, or even freak out at merely being in the same room as one of them as they go off. Well, one 8th grader decided to investigate more about this phenomenon.

For a science experiment, Nora Keegan from Calgary, Alberta, took on this issue in an attempt to find if these hand dryers can harm the hearing of young kids. Her results were surprising.

To do this, Keegan got a decibel meter and positioned it at approximately the height of your average 3-year-old. Additionally, she tested at the height of the average male and female. She made a variety of measurements, including those of the dryer with and without hands in the jet.

To analyze her data, she compared it with the level of noise that was known to cause harm as listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (85 decibels), and a study that found that children were harmfully affected by noises over 100 decibels.

Her results found that with the exception of one type of hand dryer, all dryers she tested metered at over the 85 decibel range, where the EPA recommended ear protection for children. In fact certain dryers (namely the Dyson and Xlerator) registered at 100 decibels, which is contrary to the loudness listed by the manufacturer. This is the threshold that one of the studies she found listed as causing damage to children. She notes that the results of this study may vary in different conditions and environments.

This was am ambitious and very well conducted experiment for someone of such a young age. Ultimately, it seems that your children are right to have an aversion to these dryers, claiming that they are too loud. The results of this experiment showed that these dryers may indeed be too loud for a child, and that they may potentially be noisy enough to cause damage and distress.

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