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How Hotels Can Reassure Travelers According to a Microbiologist

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At this stage of the pandemic, many of us have realized that returning to “normality” as we knew it is still a fair way off. But what we can do is adapt to the “new normal” and take steps to make every day life as safe as possible. For the travel and hospitality industries in particular, reassuring consumers that travel and tourism can be done safely is essential in ensuring recovery from the Coronavirus fallout. For many of us, all we are craving is a change of scenery, even if that means a night away in a nice hotel. But now hotels need to be able to reassure customers that they are doing everything they can to keep them safe.

“Everyone focuses on the surfaces in a hotel room, but COVID-19 is an airborne virus,” says Dr. Rajiv Sahay, director of the Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory at Pure Air Control Services in Florida. “Hotel industry leaders who understand the importance of sanitizing the HVAC system as well as how to communicate it, are going to be the winners as consumers start traveling again in greater numbers.” With this in mind, Dr. Sahay has articulated five essential steps that hotels should follow to qualify for true hypoallergenic room certification.

Evaluate Indoor Air Quality

We know that coronavirus can exist in aerosol form in the air, and that a person can contract the virus without any physical contact. That’s why it’s essential to conduct a baseline environmental test (including for COVID-19) as well as testing of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) to ensure these systems are managing the right air quantities indoors to verify the building’s safety.

Neutralize Pathogens

While trying to reduce and prevent pathogens in the air, cleaning and air filtration in hotel rooms should include building disinfection using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered disinfectants to neutralize bacteria. This is an essential step prior to the facilities being certified as hypoallergenic. 

Clean and Restore HVAC Units

You can be assured that a dirty air conditioner is doing more harm than good, and can result in allergen or mold buildups which will end up circulating in the air. All HVAC units must be hygienically cleaned with 350° F steam, and then restored with anti-microbial paint. Also make sure that the fiberglass duct board is encapsulated to prevent degradation, which increases the longevity and removes the added cost of replacing it.

Use Air Purification Technology

An air purifier is an effective way to reduce pollutants in the air, preferably one that uses detection technology and multi-stage HEPA filtration. A HEPA filter stands for high efficiency particulate air, which works by forcing air through a fine mesh and traps particles that may be harmful. PURE-Plasma bi-polar ionization technology should be installed for the continuous cleaning of the air to remove allergens, microbes, odors and particles. Indoor air may contain as much as five times the amount of some pollutants as outdoor air.  While some people use purifiers seasonally to help with allergies, every hotel should be making them a necessity all year round.

Monitor conditions

Demonstrating to your guests just how much you are prioritizing air quality and their subsequent safety will be the thing that keeps your business alive in the long term. Conditions should be consistently monitored for changes by conducting real time indoor air quality (IAQ) monitoring of the building 24/7 including particles, temperature, rH, CO2 and VOC. Doing this will not only maintain a certified hypoallergenic status, but also will allow us to move on in the new normal rather than wait for things to return to how they once were,

Find out more about Pure Air Control Services here.

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