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People Feel Unsafe Using Public Restrooms with Air Dryers, New Study Finds

PHILADELPHIA, June 16, 2020 /CNW/ -- COVID-19 is shaping new attitudes and behaviors among people. Since the pandemic, there has been a growing awareness of the health risks associated with insufficient hygiene in public spaces. According to a new study from Tork®, an Essity brand, nearly 8 out of 10 people in the U.S. feel more unsafe going to facilities with unhygienic public restrooms today than they did prior to COVID-19. In addition, one-third of people say they feel unsafe entering a restroom with air dryers.

Expectations for public spaces and demands for safe hygiene solutions are higher than ever before. According to a study from Tork on the impact of COVID-19 on people's perception of public hygiene, 86% believe keeping a high hygiene standard in public restrooms is critical to public safety.

The increased concern for hygiene in public restrooms is expressed in people's changing preferences for hand drying solutions. According to the study, 70% of people wish more facilities offered paper hand towels as an alternative to air dryers. The study also shows that 33% of people now have an increased preference for paper hand towels than before COVID-19, with the most common reasons being that paper hand towels are perceived as more hygienic (71%), they dry hands more quickly (53%), and do not spread virus and bacteria in the air (43%).

The cost of not offering paper hand towels can be high for facilities. More than 40% surveyed say they are less likely to visit places that do not offer paper hand towels as a hand drying alternative, and 33% say they feel unsafe entering a restroom with air dryers.

"The pandemic has shown that all businesses need to adapt to a new hygiene standard," said Alberto Cajiga, Vice President of Marketing, Professional Hygiene, Essity. While some facilities might have chosen air dryers before the pandemic, the perceived ease of air dryers isn't enough anymore. We have seen an increase in requests from facility managers who want to change from air dryers to paper hand towels. They no longer feel safe with their air dryers."

For hygiene-critical areas, such as food processing plants and hospitals, paper hand towels have long been the only acceptable hand drying solution.* Unlike paper hand towels, air dryers produce more airborne droplets,** which increase the risk of bacteria spread in the environment. The friction from drying hands with paper towels helps remove more bacteria than other drying options.***

Because of COVID-19, more public areas will be scrutinized by visitors that demand increased hygiene standards are applied everywhere, with 86% saying they expect public restrooms to provide a safe hygiene environment to a higher extent now than before the outbreak.

"The study suggests that people now view all public spaces as "hygiene critical," as a result of the global pandemic. Providing solutions that make people feel safe when visiting public spaces must be a top priority for facility managers that want to re-attract guests. The cost of not using the most hygienic option is simply too high," said Cajiga.

For more information about making the safer choice and switching to Tork paper hand towels, visit

*Source: Huang, C Mayo Clinic, 2011
**Source: Margas E. et al, J Applied Microbiol, 2013
***Source: Todd, J Food Prot, 2010 

About the survey
The survey was conducted by United Minds in cooperation with CINT using web-panels. Data was collected between April 8-13, 2020 in the U.S. market with a total of 1,012 respondents.

For more information, please contact:
Rachel Sharpe, Weber Shandwick, 

About Tork
The Tork brand offers professional hygiene products and services to customers worldwide ranging from restaurants and healthcare facilities to offices, schools and industries. Our products include dispensers, paper towels, toilet tissue, soap, napkins, wipers, but also software solutions for data-driven cleaning. Through expertise in hygiene, functional design and sustainability, Tork has become a market leader that supports customers to think ahead so they're always ready for business. Tork is a global brand of Essity, and a committed partner to customers in over 110 countries. To keep up with the latest Tork news and innovations, please visit 

About Essity
Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company. We are dedicated to improving well-being through our products and services. Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and other strong brands, such as JOBST, Leukoplast, Libero, Libresse, Lotus, Nosotras, Saba, Tempo, Vinda and Zewa. Essity has about 46,000 employees. Net sales in 2019 amounted to approximately $13.5 billion. The company's headquarters is located in Stockholm, Sweden, and Essity is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. Essity breaks barriers to well-being and contributes to a healthy, sustainable and circular society. More information at 

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