Indoor air quality in hotels can be poor and affect people's overall experience.

Hotels often have indoor air quality issues. As we have explained in previous blog posts (see below), guests may encounter mold or humidity problems, allergens, chemicals from harsh cleaning products and off-gassing materials, third-hand smoke and more indoor air pollutants at hotels.

Health problems can include breathing difficulties, headaches, nausea, gastrointestinal ailments, skin rashes, severe allergic reactions and neurological damage.

But it can get worse.

To contain a growing bed bug problem, a hotel in Thailand allegedly used a poisonous pesticide, one that has been banned in many countries, which may have caused the deaths of at least seven tourists staying there.

Seven people dead after staying at the hotel

According to an article in the Daily Mail, a British couple were among seven tourists whose deaths in Thailand have been linked to a toxic bed bug pesticide used at the Downtown Inn in Chiang Mai.

An undercover investigation revealed shocking evidence linking the deaths between January and March after all seven stayed at or used facilities at the hotel.

Police initially dismissed the mystery deaths as a terrible case of food poisoning caused by eating toxic seaweed from a stall at a bazaar.

Most had very similar symptoms, including myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, suspected to have been caused by food or water contamination.

Thai authorities have continually maintained the deaths linked to the three-star hotel were coincidence despite repeated claims of a cover-up by families of the victims.

Hotel rooms sprayed with pesticide that was banned from indoor use

A probe by the New Zealand current affairs programme 60 Minutes has revealed the hotel rooms had been sprayed with a potentially lethal toxin called pyrophus, which has been banned from indoor use in many other countries.

Reporters posing as hotel guests secretly took samples from the fifth floor room where New Zealand backpacker Sarah Carter, 23, died in February.

Test results found small traces of an insecticide called chlorpyrifos (CY) inside the room – a chemical that is used to get rid of bed bugs.

Thai police recently raided the company in charge of eradicating insects at the hotel and Chiang Mai’s head of public health suspects the pest controllers could have made a mistake.

‘It’s possible that they mixed together the wrong chemicals,’ Dr Surasing Visaruthrat said.

According to the article, United Nations chemical expert, Dr Ron McDowall, said he was confident Miss Carter’s symptoms and death were linked to CY poisoning.

‘Their reaction was that it is clear, it’s CY poisoning – we’ve seen it before, the symptoms are the same, the pathology is the same and the proxy indicates that the chemical was in the room,’ Dr McDowall said.

‘I think she’s been killed by an overzealous sprayer who has been acting on the instructions of the hotel owner to deal with the bed bugs.’

Chemical gets absorbed quickly

Dr McDowall added that the poisoning is difficult to confirm from blood samples making tests done on Miss Carter useless: ‘The chemical is absorbed by the body very quickly. It only has a half-life of a day so it can be very hard to predict the event.’

The popular tourist destination of Chiang Mai, 430 miles north of Bangkok, is one of Thailand’s most culturally significant cities, nestled among the highest mountains in the country.

Source: Daily Mail

Improve indoor air quality in hotels and motels

Electrocorp has designed industrial-strength air filtration systems for the hospitality industry

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Update (August 2011):  Thai  officials release report saying tourists died from chemical exposure… likely bed bug pesticides. Read more at Discovery News.

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