Coronavirus myth busted: Hand and blow dryers do not kill the COVID-19 causing virus
Exposing your mouth and nose to that kind of temperature may just give you thermal burns and cause dryness in your mouth and nose.
If there is one COVID-19 myth that keeps on coming up in different forms, it is the sensitivity of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to heat.
First, it was about a decline in cases by April due to the summer heat. Then it was about higher room temperature in general. Now they say that a hand or blow dryer could kill the virus.
Some people believe that if you put a blow dryer directly over your nose or mouth, it will generate so much heat that the virus will die. The World Health Organisation has already said that hand dryers are not effective in killing the coronavirus.
However, as per the guidelines on cleaning and sanitising your face covers by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India, you can use an iron on the mask for 5 minutes after washing the mask with soap and water.
Hairdryers can reach a temperature of about 95°C when held at a distance of 5 cm. That’s almost the temperature of boiling water.
Just because healthcare practitioners use heat to sterilise equipment does not mean that any kind of heat is good for killing microbes or the virus in this case.
Besides, exposing your mouth and nose to that kind of temperature may just give you thermal burns and cause dryness in your mouth and nose. Experts say that dry air can cause dehydration and respiratory conditions like allergies, nosebleeds and sinusitis.
If anything, this would put you at a higher risk of COVID-19.
The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to follow hand and respiratory hygiene practices and maintain physical distance.
Ironing masks may kill a lot of microbes
According to the advisory manual for the use of face covers released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, sterilisation of face covers is essential between use. This can be done by various methods, with one of them being ironing the mask for 5 minutes after washing it with soap and water.
Ironing is supposed to kill most of the harmful microbes present on the fabric.
A study done in the USA found that ironing mailing envelopes for 5 minutes at a temperature of 160-204°C — the 'cotton' setting of an iron is about 180°C to 200°C— can destroy the spores of Bacillus anthracis.
Dry heat is one of the methods of sterilization, which includes exposure of an instrument or thing to a temperature of about 160º for about 2 hours or 170º for about 1 hour. However, not all things can tolerate that temperature for that long.
Bacterial spores are the most difficult to kill and their absence is a good sign of sterilisation.
Sterilisation is different from disinfection in that a sterilised thing would have no microbes - bacteria, fungi or virus. Disinfectants, on the other hand, kill most of the disease-causing microbes on the surface - except bacterial spores.
Since SARS-CoV-2 is a new pathogen, not much can be said for sure about it. However, as per the evidence, ironing may help reduce microbial growth.
For more information, read our article on COVID-19 myths busted.
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