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hotelsspas – Think before you buy

Hotels and spas

Hotels are premises where the exposure of employees and guests to hazardous substances is not obvious at a first glance. However, large quantities of cleaning and disinfectant products which likely contain hazardous substances are regularly used in hotel rooms, conference rooms, kitchens, restaurants and laundry facilities. Large quantities of personal care and hygiene products from guest rooms and sanitary facilities are used in hotels which are washed away into the wastewater stream via showers and sinks.

Another more hidden health hazard in hotels is pollution of the indoor environment which may originate from articles, materials and consumer products containing hazardous substances. Since workers and staff usually spend most of their working hours in indoors, the indoor pollution load is a relevant factor concerning public health and in recent years there has been greater scientific and public awareness about the effects of indoor environment quality on health and well-being.

Articles and materials which may reduce the quality of the indoor environment include furniture, flooring, textiles, electronics and wall covering. All of these products may contain hazardous substances that can migrate, abrade or off-gas, resulting in human exposure through air, dust or dermal pathways.

Substance

Abrasive

What it does?

Insoluble materials that provide a mechanical action to the cleaning function

Examples

Natural minerals, such as calcite, feldspar, quartz and silica

In which products could be found?

Abrasive cleaners for dishwashing or surface cleaning

Impact on humans

Non-hazardous

Impact on environment

Non-hazardous

Substance

Acid

What it does?

Used for the removal of inorganic deposits

Examples

Phosphoric acid, oxalic acid citric acid

In which products could be found?

Rust removers,toilet bowl cleanersdescalers and delimersmetal cleaners and polishes,tub, tile and sink cleaners

Impact on humans

Corrosive or irritant depending on substance

Impact on environment

Non-hazardous

Substance

Alkalis

What it does?

Help to break down fats, oils, and other protein-based substances

Examples

Sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate

In which products could be found?

Drain openers, oven cleaners, disinfectant products, bleach

Impact on humans

Corrosive or irritant depending on substance

Impact on environment

Non-hazardous

Substance

Chlorine

What it does?

Can be used either as bleaching agent or disinfectant/ sanitizer

Examples

Sodium hypochlorite

In which products could be found?

Widely used in cleaning and disinfectant products; swimming pool chemicals

Impact on humans

Corrosive and irritant

Impact on environment

It is not likely to cause permanent environmental damage

Substance

Enzyme

What it does?

Are added to cleaners to help break down and remove soils and stains

Examples

Protease

In which products could be found?

Laundry detergents, stain removers, dish detergents, deodorizersc

Impact on humans

Harmful

Impact on environment

Non-hazardous

Substance

Perfume, fragrances

What it does?

Mask unpleasant odors or provide a pleasant smell to the detergent

Examples

Natural (lemon, lavender, pine) Artificial (limonene, musks)

In which products could be found?

Widely used in various products

Impact on humans

Varies greatly, many are toxic. Fragrance chemicals are the most frequent allergens (including sides effects – skin sensitivity, dermatitis, asthma attacks and migraine

Impact on environment

Varies greatly, many are toxic. Fragrance chemicals are the most frequent allergens (including sides effects – skin sensitivity, dermatitis, asthma attacks and migraine

Substance

Peroxide

What it does?

Can be used either as bleaching agent or disinfectant /sanitizer

Examples

Hydrogen peroxide

In which products could be found?

Swimming pool chemicals, commonly used in various products

Impact on humans

Corrosive, oxidizing

Impact on environment

Non-hazardous

Substance

Phosphate

What it does?

Provides a source of moderate alkalinity and supports the cleaning process whilst tying up water hardness minerals

Examples

Sodium tripolyphosphate

In which products could be found?

Laundry detergents, dishwashing detergents, metal polishes, may be used in specialty cleaners, such as concrete cleaners

Impact on humans

Non-hazardous

Impact on environment

Hazardous – causes eutrophication

Substance

Quaternary Ammonium Compound (QAC)

What it does?

The quaternaries are cationic surfactants with germicidal (disinfectant) properties

Examples

Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (benzalkonium chlorides)

In which products could be found?

Dishwashing detergents, window cleaners, “all-purpose” cleaners, floor products, disinfectant sprays, air fresheners and other products with anti-microbial activity

Impact on humans

Can be no-harmful, but most likely is harmful, when included in a product used in hotel industry

Impact on environment

Varies greatly

Substance

Solvent

What it does?

Used in detergent formulas to complement the cleaning efficiency

Examples

Ethanol, isopropanol, glycol ethers, xylene, toluene

In which products could be found?

Stain removers, dry cleaning agents, paints, lacquer, glue, cleaning products

Impact on humans

Varies greatly

Impact on environment

Varies greatly

Substance

Surfactant

What it does?

Reduces the surface tension of water so it can quickly wet a surface to enable dirt to be loosened and removed. Provide foaming and emulsification.

Examples

Anionic, cationic, non-ionic, amphoteric

In which products could be found?

Most cleaning products, such as, laundry detergents, surface cleaners and dishwashing detergents

Impact on humans

Varies greatly

Impact on environment

Varies greatly