Despite an increase in infection rates as a result of the Delta CoV-SARS-2 virus strain, some Canadians are still looking to make the most out of the remaining days of summer and travel. In light of the special circumstances surrounding the pandemic, travellers as well as the tourism industry must take care to implement measures to ensure a safe experience.
On March 13th of 2020, the Government of Canada released a statement that was distressing for many: It was recommended that Canadians abroad return home and that all non-essential travel outside of Canada be avoided1. With this guideline being in place for well over a year, Canadians have been given new hope with the arrival of the vaccines and loosened restrictions. Airlines and resorts are also encouraging travel through relaxed cancellation policies, discounted resort packages, and more. While this all sounds enticing, it must be noted that the pandemic is not over, so Canadian travellers and the tourism industry must show initiative in taking necessary safety precautions, big and small.
Health and Safety Risks Associated with Hotel Stays
It is undeniable that the hotel industry has been hit hard by the pandemic; year-on-year occupancy percentage has decreased by 57.8% and revenue per available room has decreased by 69.9% in Canada2.
If outstanding hotel cleanliness was a selling point for guests before, it most definitely is now. Guests want to know that the hotels they stay in uphold strict cleaning procedures and that common touch surfaces are disinfected. Despite the joint statement from the Hotel Association of Canada and the American Hotel and Lodging Association regarding new health and safety procedures3, another factor has largely been overlooked in the strategy to control the spread of COVID-19: superior indoor air quality.
Guest rooms and common spaces within most hotels have dated air filtration systems that circulate the same air in and out of the room4 without removing pollutants, including aerosol particles containing the virus. Repeatedly recirculating infected aerosols and other pollutants increases the likelihood that an unsuspecting guest will inhale them and become infected themselves.
Air Pollution and Connected Health Risks in Canadian Hotels
Not only does poor air ventilation increase the risk of COVID-19 infection, it also worsens guests’ exposure to outdoor air pollution infiltrating the building. Outdoor air pollutants are mainly emitted by vehicles, airports, power plants, and other industrial processes, and include both gases and particulate matter. Hotels located in poorly designed urban areas are also prone to exacerbated air pollution concentration, as wind can be blocked and air dispersion is reduced5. The inhalation of these emissions can be detrimental, as fine particulates can deeply penetrate lung cells and induce lung irritation or illness.
Inhalation of pollution particulates that are generated from within hotels are also a cause for concern. These pollutants may include dust on hotel furniture; various concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from solvents and sealants, fragrant decorations, and cooking fumes in kitchens; and even biological pollutants from people. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the presence of these indoor pollutants causes health problems such as respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer6.
Top Tips for Canadians to Reduce Pollution-Related Health Risks During Travel
To help assure Canadians have a hotel experience that counteracts health risks and reduces exposure to COVID-19, Camfil Canada recommends that guests:
- disinfect common touch surfaces such as door handles and faucets, even if hotel staff is performing this service
- practice physical distancing when possible
- avoid closed spaces and crowded areas
- practice good hand hygiene
- wear a face mask in shared spaces
- ensure there is adequate ventilation or supplemental air purification units throughout the hotel before arriving
Advantages of Proper Air Filtration in Hotels
While sanitizing and disinfecting procedures remove pathogens on surfaces, they have no effect on pathogens and other harmful particulates lingering in the air. Moreover, certain masks only provide limited protection as they are not effective against fine pollution particles ranging from 0.3-10 microns7.
Several hotels are beginning to do their part in improving indoor air quality (IAQ) and eliminating virus and air pollution particles before they can be inhaled. For instance, the MGM Resort chain in the U.S. is upgrading ventilation and even adding air purification units to guest rooms8.
For other hotels wanting to take the lead in delivering superior air quality and instill confidence in their guests, Camfil Canada recommends that they apply high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These filters are optimal in virus removal as they are able to capture at least 99.97% of .3 micron particles. The City M Air Purifier is a combination HEPA/gas removal filter, meaning it is effective in removing both gaseous air pollutants and infectious particles.This portable air purifier can supplement or complement existing ventilation systems and can be implemented in guest rooms or other common areas.
For hotels wanting to go the extra mile, they can also upgrade their ventilation systems. If air handling units (AHU) cannot support HEPA filters, air filters with at least a MERV 14/14A rating are also effective in protecting people. The City-Flo is a bag filter, ideal for upgrading existing installations and is uniquely designed to remove both gases and particulate matter. The Durafil ES2, a compact filter, is another option that has a low Life-Cycle Cost (LCC).
There are a variety of factors that determine which air filtration solutions will best protect your hotel. Be sure to contact an experienced commercial building air filtration consultant to find the air filtration solutions that are right for your building.
About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions
For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.
The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 33 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 30 countries, and about 4,800 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil Canada can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at www.camfil.com/en-ca/.
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