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Hotel rooms can be full of bacteria and other pollutants

No matter how diligent hotels are with their cleaning regimen – the lack of cleaning standards and other factors allow many surfaces to be contaminated, researchers say.

Scientists from the University of Houston examined surfaces of hotel rooms and found television remotes to be the most contaminated with bacteria. Also, items on the housekeeping cart can potentially lead to cross-contamination between rooms, they say.

Most hotels and guests judge a room’s cleanliness by how clean it looks, but this is an ineffective method of measuring levels of sanitation.

Contaminated surfaces can spread infections during outbreaks in hotels, and immunocompromised individuals may be specifically at risk, the researchers warn.

As expected, other highly contaminated surfaces included the toilet and bathroom sink as well as the bedside lamp switch.

Source: The American Society for Microbiology

Other pollutants in hotel rooms

Mold – Typical causes for mold in hotels are deficient air conditioning systems and air and water leaks in the building walls. Most hotel rooms have little fresh air exchange and let mold and bacteria thrive in an environment of vinyl wall paper and shower steam.

Pesticides – It may be bed bugs or other insects or pests that have invaded a hotel – but the use of pesticides can be quite dangerous to hotel guests as well, since they often contain toxic chemicals.

Chemicals – Building materials, furniture, textiles, carpets and other substances in hotel rooms may off-gas chemicals and volatile organic compounds that can be irritants and known health hazards. Other chemical pollutants come from cleaning products and personal care products as well as air fresheners.

Allergens – The hotel’s mattress, pillow, rug, drapery and upholstered furniture can all easily collect dust, mites and bodily secretions — all of which can cause reactions in allergy sufferers.

Tobacco smoke – Smoking is banned in many hotels, but certain rooms may be designated as smoke rooms (and certain guests may light up, anyway). Stale tobacco smoke is difficult to eradicate and can leave behind harmful chemicals and toxins.

Air cleaners for hotels

Using non-toxic materials and products whenever possible, implementing a strict cleaning regimen and making sure there is adequate ventilation can all help to improve indoor air quality in hotels – but the right air cleaner will provide cleaner and healthier air around the clock.

The best air cleaners for hotels feature a combination of activated carbon, HEPA and a UV lamps to remove odors, chemicals, gases, particles, dust, mold spores, bacteria and viruses from the air. They should be easy to use, quiet and equipped with long-lasting filters.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and the best air cleaners for your hotel, motel, inn or hospitality business.

Hotels can make big and small changes to be more green and profitable.

Big hotel chains seem to have the advantage when it comes to going green, a new analysis by Washington State University researchers shows.

Chain hotels often have more green practices in place, including:

  • Energy efficient light bulbs
  • Staff training to conserve energy by turning off lights, heaters and air conditioning in unoccupied rooms
  • Bulk purchasing to save on packaging
  • Using less toxic cleaners and chemicals
  • Offering tips to guests on how to save water and energy during their stay (reusing towels and sheets, for example)

The researchers found that the appearance of being green impacted a guest’s decision when it came to similar rooms at the same price.

Traditionally, hotels have had large environmental footprints in the hospitality industry because they use so much water and cleaning chemicals, electricity by keeping lights on all night, etc.

The green hotel movement has become more and more popular since the 1990s.

“It’s a smart practice for hotels,” says Dennis Reynolds, Ivar B. Haglund Endowed Chair in the WSU School of Hospitality Business Management.

“When it started, no one acknowledged that. They said, ‘This is a green practice. We’re doing it for the environment.’ That caught on very quickly because, yes, it’s good for the environment but it’s also good for the bottom line.”

Greener buildings with better insulation, improved ventilation systems and increased control over room temperature and air quality can cut energy costs significantly.

Source: Washington State University press release

Improve a room’s air quality for more comfort

Many hotels are seeing the benefits of green practices – and indoor air quality plays an important role in the experience provided to guests.

A portable air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPA air filters can remove the widest range of odors, chemicals, gases, allergens, molds, bacteria and viruses and provide relief to guests affected by allergies and asthma or chemical sensitivities. Units can also be ducted or otherwise incorporated into existing ventilation systems.

Contact Electrocorp for more information about our line of air cleaners for the hospitality industry and other options.

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

Contact us for more information.

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

Hotels can offer much more than just a nice clean room: Better air quality.

Indoor air quality is important – and hotel chains are catching on.

At a time when hotels promise everything from custom ice-cream room service to complete wedding proposal preparations, it’s no surprise that they’re also offering hypoallergenic rooms.

According to an article in the Tribune Newspapers, the Hyatt, Wyndham, Intercontinental, Fairmont and Mandarin hotel chains — among others — are experimenting with everything from small tweaks in bedding and air-purification systems to complete room remodels to help allergy sufferers have a symptom-free stay.

In hypoallergenic rooms in the Hyatt, the air is circulated up to five times an hour in these rooms, the mattresses and pillows are encased in a protective hypoallergenic covering, and the carpet and upholstery are cleaned and protected with Pure Clean and Pure Shield anti-allergen products, said Lori Alexander, spokeswoman for Hyatt.

Guests who want to stay in Hyatt’s hypoallergenic rooms are charged $20 to $30 extra per night, depending on the hotel’s location.

Hotel rooms considered problematic places

For those with allergies, a hotel room can trigger a swarm of reactions, said Philip Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University.

The hotel’s mattress, pillow, rug, drapery and upholstered furniture can all easily collect dust, mites and bodily secretions — all of which are the bane of allergy sufferers, Tierno said.

“Unless a hotel has impervious covers on their mattresses and pillows, they’re contributing to allergies and exacerbating them,” Tierno said. “Even if you don’t have allergies now, you can develop them over time. You don’t need to be breathing in this garbage from mattresses and pillows.”

But before someone with allergies pays extra for a hypoallergenic room, they should see exactly what the hotels are offering, said Stanley Fineman, president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and allergist with the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic.

Filtering the air and circulating it frequently is helpful, as is covering the mattresses with mite-proof allergenic casing.

“I have patients who complain about the reactions they get from sleeping in some hotel rooms, so for some people with allergies, it may be worth it to pay the premium to sleep in a room that’s prepared that way,” Fineman said. “This might be a benefit for certain patients.”

Source: Danielle Braff, Special to Tribune Newspapers

Editor’s note: The original article has been edited for length.

Remove airborne pollutants in hotels

Electrocorp has designed portable, cost-effective and low-maintenance air filtration systems for the hospitality industry. The systems remove the widest range of airborne toxins with a deep bed of activated carbon and HEPA filters.

Talk to one of our air quality experts today to learn more.

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