Can Super-Fast Hand Dryers Damage Your Hearing?

If you are reading this, then you probably suspect what the answer may be. Sadly, your suspicions would seem to be correct – it would seem that yes, the relatively new “super-fast” hand dryers can indeed negatively impact your hearing.

A recent study has suggested that the new models of hand dryers can have a fairly severe effect – they can have the same impact on your hearing as a pneumatic drill at close range would.

How Have They Passed Safety Testing?
It would seem as though they have successfully got through the typical barrage of safety tests simply via inaccuracies in the testing conditions – the product testing labs are significantly larger than your typical public toilet, and as such the final results were almost irrelevant.

Various researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London carried out this study, testing the acoustics in a lab of a “box shape” typical of public toilets. The results of this new study carried some startling findings: the noise levels recorded were eleven times as high as the ones reported by the product testing labs!

The head of the Goldsmiths sound practice research unit, Dr John Levack Drever, claimed that the difference in results was down to the “ultra-absorbent” acoustic lab environments, and how greatly they affect the noise in comparison to the real-life outcome in a public toilet. This latter environment would see the noise being “vastly amplified” due to the “highly reverberant and reflective” surroundings.

What Can Be Done to Correct This?
Dr Levack seems to think that the answer is simple: ditch the laboratories. To get a more realistic approach – one that is applicable to a real world scenario – they need to conduct their tests in a more realistic environment.

Levack states that users need to come together with engineers and sound artists in order to “tune the products accordingly”, so that they make less noise in the typical hand dryer locations.

What Is So Bad About Loud Noises?
Apart from the obvious things like deafness, the noise levels given out by these hand dryers cause some other negative effects.

Some of these effects are less apparent because they affect minorities instead of the population as a whole. For example, elderly sufferers of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can suffer from discomfort and confusion caused by the noise, whilst people who are blind or have impaired vision can experience greater difficulty in navigation. Because the noise can reach such overwhelmingly loud levels, users of hearing aids are sometimes forced to turn off their devices whilst using a public toilet.

And of course, prolonged exposure to loud noises can lead to a degradation in the ability to hear.

The Effects of Hearing Loss
The effects of hearing loss are legion, and they are varied. A recent study has linked people who are hard of hearing with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and other effects can include a feeling of isolation, depression, decreased enjoyment in social activities and a lack of awareness. The latter problem can be particularly serious in potentially dangerous situations, such as crossing the road.

Of course, the worst thing about losing your hearing is the obvious one – you can no longer hear. No one wants to go deaf. Try and limit your usage of super-fast hand dryers if you can.

With over 25 years’ experience in hearing healthcare, Hidden Hearing is committed to providing the most professional hearing healthcare service to its customers. Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit

Apple patent reveals new design of in-ear headphones that automatically drop the volume if not worn properly

listening to music

Apple has filed a patent for a pair of headphones that automatically adjust the volume of music if they’re not inserted far enough into the ear. The tech company has been criticised in the past for the headphones it sells with iPhones and iPods because they ‘leak’ music, meaning a listener’s tunes can be heard by people around them.  

Designs for the in-ear headphones, also known as earbuds, in this latest patent have a built-in microphone that can assess how much much music is leaking and adjust the volume accordingly.

According to the patent, the buds could track variations in the seal between the speaker section of the earbud and the wearer’s ear canal. If the earbud is not inserted far enough, the microphone will realise the seal has been broken.

The buds will then either warn the listener through an on-screen message, or automatically adjust the volume.The microphone can also listen to ambient noises and increase the volume if the wearer is in a loud environment. This adjustment additionally means the earbuds will better fit people’s different sized ears.

The patent was filed earlier this month to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office and it will need to be approved before Apple can begin working on, and ultimately selling, the device. It said: ‘The speakers in earbud headphone are encased in earbuds.

Hidden Hearing  recommend the 60/60 Rule to protect your hearing – that’s listen to your personal music device through headphones for a maximum of 60 minutes at 60% of the volume.

 Commenting on the news of the patent, Hidden Hearing audiologist Keith Ross said, “ As a result of years of listening to personal music devices at very loud volumes, we are seeing a huge increase in the number of people sometimes as young as 30 suffering from hearing loss which you might expect a person aged over 70 to have. Our advice is to take care of your hearing and if you or your family or friends suspect you have a hearing loss to get your hearing checked today. Hearing screenings are free at Hidden Hearing’s branches or mobile hearing clinic.”