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Restrooms Reveal Company Culture Combating malodour in Corporate set ups

by Clean India Journal Editor
0 comment

The release of foul gases through urinal drain lines and the microbial activity nourished by dried urine in the grout around the urinals constitute the primary origin of restroom odors.

Anil Sanghvi

Anil Sanghvi, Director, Hygienetech India Pvt. Ltd shares that the presence of organic matter and microbes that paves the way for extremely foul odours (typically ammonia) and the gases causing this impact human health adversely. Odour-related issues are also reported from HVAC ducts, carpets, newly finished rooms, freshly painted offices, etc. However, washrooms represent the most vulnerable aspect of hygiene security.

The release of foul gases through urinal drain lines and the microbial activity nourished by dried urine in the grout around the urinals constitute the primary origin of restroom odours. These persistent malodorous gases are also influenced by humidity and temperature. Lapses in personal hygiene by occupants heighten the overall hygiene security.

Misconceptions about Odour Control:

1)   Odour mitigation is a slow process: This is often represented by companies in the business of promoting bio/enzyme-based products as well as by most of the product sellers.

Correction: Resolution of odor is a rapid process if approached scientifically.

2)   Air Fresheners: Are often viewed as a powerful weapon for malodor resolution.

Scientifically speaking, resolving odor-related issues can be done by:

1)   Identify origin: The human nose is sensitive to identify the origin of the foul odor.

2)   Identify the cause of foul odor: The understanding of the location, substrate, and constitution of organic matter mix, water, and possible microbes can help understand the odor gases. The presence and concentration of gases can be figured out through gas identification instruments.

3)   Mitigation: This is planned based on the gases that are the root cause of odor. There are many techniques employed to neutralize odor: 1) neutralization 2) dissipation 3) absorption 4) adsorption 5) filtration 6) removal of substrate through maintenance.

Regular restroom assessments with products like HygieCheckTM offer a means to identify dangers and devise strategies for odor control.

Designing the washrooms should involve considerable thought as the users come from various lifestyles.

Vvijay L Korgaonkar

Vvijay L Korgaonkar, Sales Head, The House of Chavan reminisced about his entry into the washroom hygiene sector at the dawn of the millennium and shared that it was difficult to convince people about the hygiene factor in washrooms. Designing the washrooms should involve considerable thought as the users come from various lifestyles. If we look at air-care solutions, there are different types of aerosols available and the best ones work through penetrating bad odor-causing molecules before giving out fragrance.

Effective odor control is necessary for maintaining the washroom environment and ensuring that the users experience freshness while using washrooms.

Nowadays there are tried and tested products using innovative technologies to combat odor control in washrooms. The root cause of issues is the air and surfaces inside the washrooms. Utmost care must be taken for the surface of walls or sanitary fixtures like water taps, urinal pots, or commode pots we use. Air care, surface care, skin care, hand care, and feminine hygiene care systems need to be in place. Automatic toilet cleaner cum deodorizer can loosen the hard deposits on the surface and in the drain pipes below the urinal pots in the gents’ washrooms. A periodic cleaning schedule for washrooms especially the sanitary pots with the right use of environmentally safe cleaning solutions will be helpful.

There are specific challenges encountered when dealing with persistent odors in five-star hotels, corporate offices, and small commercial establishments. Some typical examples are as follows:

•     A five-star hotel with ‘spick and span’ washrooms and shining surfaces developed a bad smell that spread throughout the washrooms. These were equipped with modern sanitary equipment. A thorough inspection revealed no leaking or dripping. Therefore, the solution lies in a thorough treatment of the entire space to remove bad odor. The customer was happy that the right solution accompanying the right product for the right application was arrived at mitigating the malodor issue.

•     A corporate office where the common issue of washrooms was malodor and the unhygienic surface of sanitary fixtures. The housekeeping team complained about the users being high-profile officers who did not necessarily follow good hygiene practices. The issue was more with the fixtures not meeting the user’s needs. The solution here involved channeling the air circulation into the washrooms to get rid of bad odor and the right solution for a clean and hygienic surface.

•     A small commercial establishment used to add ice cubes to avoid bad odor from the washroom. Right cleaning products helped with curbing the issue.

In all cases, it is imperative to survey the washrooms thoroughly before recommending any solution to the customer. The needs of every washroom setup are different so there is no one size fits all concept.

The right approach to controlling bad odor in washrooms with high traffic depends on the type of facility with the number of urinals, western commodes, and the washbasin installed in the particular washroom. All these factors affect the washroom environment and this needs to be taken into consideration before implementing the right-fit solution.

There has to be a balance struck for the need for effective odor control with environment-friendly and sustainable practices like using chloroflurocarbons free aerosols in dry form, and pH-balanced liquid solutions to maintain the surfaces in the washrooms while cleaning the sanitary fixtures or floorings. Similarly, the presence of pH-balanced hand wash or hand sanitizer to maintain the last point of personal hygiene. Sometimes, the chemicals or naphthalene balls we use in washrooms react with uric acid resulting in a bad odor. It is always better to use the right-fit solutions whether it is air, surface, skin, or feminine care products that cause bad odor. Well-trained housekeeping staff with periodic cleaning of surfaces and deep cleaning of washrooms helps for effective odor control.

Continuous removal of stagnant air is important to maintain a healthy environment.

Gifty Francis

Gifty Francis, Sr. Application Engineer, Aqoza Technologies Pvt. Ltd. stressed that the concentration of hydrogen sulfide causes malodor. At higher concentrations, it acts as a neurotoxin and can be fatal. Therefore, concerning hydrogen sulfide, concentration is key.

Urine contains urea which will be broken down into ammonia which causes major problems. Active monitoring of gases can give us an insight into how much gases like hydrogen sulfide, mercaptans, and multiple volatile organic compounds are being emitted, and a proactive approach to managing them effectively can be arranged.

Continuous removal of stagnant air is important to maintain a healthy environment. Exhaustion must be done in a way where a large volume of stagnant air is diluted and taken away outside. Filtration also has to be done as just because air inside washrooms is being diluted, it is not being filtered. It just reduces concentration and when this travels outside, it could be a nuisance to the public too.

Malodor can be removed in two ways:

•     Ventilation and a filtration system adjacent to it.

•     Masking the odors.

A gas phase filtration equipment fitted in the vent can ensure that diluted gases are released into the atmosphere. This is a masking method that is used in air fresheners to mask the malodor with a pleasant one. This is what is employed throughout the washrooms in the world as it does its job and is economical.

The S-trap inside the toilet has two functions: 1) whatever goes in must not come out and 2) odor control. So, there is a water column that prevents gases from coming back up. When we flush the toilet, fecal bacteria are released into the air due to our common practice of not closing the lid while flushing. This can get attached to the curtains, clothes, or anything that is hanging in the vicinity leading to an unhygienic environment. Proper ventilation must include a scenario where these bacteria are removed from the surrounding air. Therefore, continuous ventilation is required and the air has to be treated before it is released. A drawback includes high operational expenses for fitting a gas filtration unit in a public toilet setting. Air purifiers that have sensors to detect volatile organic compounds mask the odor for five to ten minutes. This does the job and one does not need a proactive measure.

Commercial spaces like airports, shopping malls, and movie theatres have well-maintained toilets as they are being cleaned regularly. People are required for good maintenance of toilets. Maintenance and cleanliness should be the primary focus. An active scrubbing system is required because a person takes charge of ensuring good toilet hygiene, especially in public toilets.

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