As hotels rush to accommodate the health and environmental concerns of their patrons, they cannot ignore the rising universal concern with indoor air quality (IAQ). As healthy living is the new trend, travellers are paying more and more attention to IAQ-related health concerns and the benefits of clean air. According to a study by the International Hotel and Restaurant Association, more than two-thirds of frequent travellers are concerned about air quality. Sixty percent indicated that they had suffered poor sleep, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, headache, cough or sore throat because of staying in a hotel room with poor indoor air quality.
Poor air quality in hotels is a service, financial and marketing issue. Consider people with respiratory problems. The American Lung Association estimates that 3 out of 5 people suffer from respiratory difficulties. This translates into an average of one person per family. Often travellers will not complain about a poor environment or a room that aggravates their allergies, but these guests will not return and will not recommend it to others. Their symptoms are a direct result of poor indoor air quality. The typical symptoms that travellers experience are sore throats, headaches, running nose and itchy eyes. Given that many of us spend up to 90% of our time indoors, this is an important issue.
Reasons to monitor your IAQ:
- The obligation to ensure you are not creating a risk to public health. The mere mention of the word “contamination” is scary for most people involved in commercial building management. This is a reasonable reaction, because while contaminant outbreaks carry the possibility of deadly consequences.
- Improving guest satisfaction. For general health, well-being and safety reasons, customers require good indoor air quality and environment.
- Upholding staff productivity. Guests are not the only occupants likely to suffer health effects – staff spend their working hours in the same environment. They cannot work efficiently and effectively if they are uncomfortable. With poor indoor air quality, employers may face high health insurance and workers’ compensation costs as well as low worker productivity and frequent absenteeism. Healthier buildings can boost employee productivity by approximately 15%(Bergs, 2018)
- Reduce operating costs (and carbon dioxide emissions) through lower energy consumption with proper humidity and maintenance.
- Increase revenues. Customers who are satisfied with indoor air quality and comfort of their hotels are likely to return.
Issues that can have an adverse effect on your IAQ:
- Poor ventilation as a result of energy efficiency measures
- Off-gassing VOCs from building materials
- Water damage which may lead to mould growth
- Chemical contaminants
- Smoking guests
- Poor air quality within indoor swimming pool areas
5 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Get your IAQ assessed by a professional.
If in-house efforts have not solved your indoor air quality concerns or if you want to verify that you are on the right track, you should contact a professional indoor air quality consultant. Even when you think you have found the source of the issue, verification may require specialized sampling methods, as well as professional experts to interpret the test results correctly and provide recommendations on how to rectify the issues. Engaging a consultant is especially important when indoor air quality concerns escalate. An independent investigation will develop a credible analysis and actionable recommendations that all stakeholders can trust. Contact a professional for a consultation.
Be aware of pollution in your air.
Although society tends to think of air pollution as an outdoor issue, indoor air can be worse. With an increased air tightness and other energy efficiency strategies, indoor air circulation is frequently restricted and pollutants remain trapped in your indoor environment. The way to improve this is to focus on ventilation. Strategies such as heat recovery can provide fresh air without the loss of heat. Regularly maintaining your HVAC systems and changing air filters is also key. To check if your efforts are providing sufficient results, routinely get your IAQ tested by a professional at least once per year.
Watch out for VOCs.
Do your research if you have any questions about what is going on your walls and into your renovations. Materials like carpeting, paint and vinyl can release harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Check with manufacturers to find materials that minimize chemical off-gassing and use low-VOC paint for interior design.
Keep humidity between 20%-60%.
Mould can produce allergens and mycotoxins, which have adverse health effects. Health effects range from allergy-like reactions (even in non-allergic people) to asthma attacks. Long periods of low relative humidity can cause dryness of the skin and mucous membranes, which may lead to chapping and irritation. High humidity levels can result in condensation within the building structure and on the interior or exterior surfaces and subsequently lead to the development of fungal growth.
Clean with care.
Many everyday cleaners contain fragrances that make things smell ‘clean’, and these can aggravate respiratory problems. With advances in chemical-free cleaning, it is possible to use HEPA vacuuming, steam and engineered water to reduce chemical use and thus avoid adverse effects on indoor air quality.