Those sleek Xlerator-brand hand dryers appearing in some public restroom may blast the water away, but their decibel level can spike into the mid-90s, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.
At 100 decibels — think jet takeoff, jackhammer or garbage truck — serious hearing damage can occur after eight hours.
Of course, no one except maybe the cleaning staff is likely to be in the bathroom for eight hours. The machines, meanwhile, are loud because they can dry hands three times faster than traditional dryers and use 80 percent less energy, according to the company. They are also marketed as providing a 95 percent cost savings compared with paper towels.
In the meantime, if you’re a frequent visitor to a public bathroom, or you work in one, bring your earplugs. Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations state that if you’re exposed to a sound level of 95 decibels for a continuous four-hour period, you might need ear protection.