Hand Dryers Hurt Kids’ Hearing, 13-Year-Old Scientist Finds

Learn what a Canadian teen revealed about how restroom hand dryers hurt kids' ears – and discover experiments your kids can do to change the world a little, too.

If your kids are sensitive to loud noises, you know just how miserable a trip to a public restroom can be. Many parents find themselves wondering: Do the auto-flushes and hand dryers have to be quite so loud? Is it even safe?

A 13-year-old girl from Canada was among the many kids to have that same thought, and so she decided to do some research to see if that aggressive hand-drying noise is suitable for kids’ hearing.

And as we’ve now seen in headlines across the world, it turned out she was onto something: It’s not.

What a teen scientist discovered

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

After measuring the volume of various hand dryers, she found out which ones were the loudest. “My loudest measurement was 121 decibels from a Dyson Airblade model,” she says in the article. “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.”

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In response, one hand dryer brand – Dyson – told NPR that an acoustics engineer from their team would be meeting with Nora soon. Ultimately, her research could change the way people dry their hands in public restrooms.

Experiments to harness kids’ curiosity

Nora’s story will undoubtedly inspire kids around the globe that their own hunches and science experiments could make a difference in the world – or at least in their own homes, health or carbon footprint.

So how can you encourage your kids to give scientific research a try? Consider these three activities.

1. How much sugar is in that drink?

As parents react to headlines that new research links sugary drinks with an increased risk of cancer, cutting down on sugar may be top of mind. Have your kids try this experiment that investigates sugar content in popular drinks like juice and soda. Fair warning: You may be shocked by the results!

2. How clean is your air?

The fresh air outside looks … well, fresh! But is it as clean as you think? With today’s ever-present environmental concerns about climate change and pollution, this experiment can give kids a small glimpse into how scientists find out whether air is polluted or not.

3. Metro Parent’s Virtual Science Camp

Metro Parent and Michigan Science Center join forces each summer to bring kids a free video series of six DIY experiments they can try right at home – plus a companion guide with more fun stuff to do. And a quiz to test their smarts, too (not to mention, score a free pass to the Michigan Science Center).

Be sure to join in the Virtual Science Camp – the current camp runs July 7-Aug. 11, 2019. After that, while the free-pass promo will end, you can still check out the experiments any time to learn more about meteors, rockets, water filtration, electricity and much more!

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