13-Year-Old Publishes Scientific Study Showing That Hand Dryers Can Damage Kids’ Ears

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Nora Keegan just published her very first scientific study in a professional journal. At 13 years old.

Nora started on her research when she was only 9. The young Calgary, Canada, student noticed that hand dryers often made her ears ring, and that led her to hypothesize that these products are actually harmful to children’s ears.

Spoiler alert — she was right. Her research was published in the Paediatrics & Child Health journal in June.

“Hand dryers are actually really, really loud, and especially at children’s heights since they’re close to where the air comes out,” Nora told NPR.

Children’s ears are also more sensitive to damage than adults’ ears, making this research especially pertinent.

For the study, Nora traveled to over 40 public restrooms in Alberta, Canada between 2015 and 2017. She used a professional decibel meter to measure the sound levels of the hand dryers from various heights and distances.

She found that Xlerator hand dryers and two types of Dyson Airblade hand dryers are particularly loud. At over 100 decibels, the noise can lead to “learning disabilities, attention difficulties, and ruptured eardrums,” the study says.

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“My loudest measurement was 121 decibels from a Dyson Airblade model,” she told NPR. “And this is not good because Health Canada doesn’t allow toys for children to be sold over 100 decibels, as they know that they can damage children’s hearing.”

Thankfully, Nora’s study is already having an impact. An acoustics engineer from Dyson met with Nora to discuss her research.