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VERIFY: Do hand dryers blow dirty air?

(img: WCNC/Facebook)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A photo of a petri dish filled with bacteria is going viral because the spores reportedly came from a hand dryer in a public bathroom.

The photo posted to Facebook in January is starting to make the rounds again -- leaving people wondering if it’s the real deal.

NBC Charlotte turned to the experts to find out.

“Sounds gross but it’s true,” said Dr. Arash Poursina, infectious disease specialist with Piedmont Health in Rock Hill.

He’s not at all surprised that this is what came out of an enclosed hand dryer.

“A toilet, if you don’t close the lid when you flush, a lot of bacteria gets aerosolized. It’s in the bathroom air that you and I are breathing in,” he said.

The dryers are supposed to have regularly changed filters.

“But not very often do you see a hand dryer where the filter has been routinely and on time changed,” Dr. Poursina said. “[Dryers] are literally are just sucking in the air from the bathroom with all of the stuff aerosolized in it and they’re blowing it directly on your just-washed hands.”

So, unfortunately, we can verify this is probably very real.

“So your hands, are they now dirtier than if you had never even washed them?” NBC Charlotte asked.

“It’s possible, yes. It’s very much possible,” Dr. Poursina responded.

While he recommends paper towels over dryers, Dr. Poursina doesn’t want people to swear off public bathrooms forever. After all, not all bacteria is bad for you, even though it looks gross.

“I really don’t want people to start becoming germaphobic,” he said. “But there are certain precautions that’s important for a person to do in order to prevent disease.”

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