The problem

Several chemical products that are used as a part of the hotel operation pose potential hazards to human health and the environment, therefore they must be handled, stored and disposed carefully and replaced with less hazardous alternatives where possible.

In hotels, chemical substances are found mainly in products used for cleaning (in housekeeping, kitchen, laundry and maintenance departments), but also are found in other products, such as, paints. Chemical substances are available in solid, liquid, powder, granules, tabs, gel forms or as gas. Some chemical substances are dangerous – they can cause injury, impairment to health or death to living organisms, or which can damage the environment through, for example being toxic, flammable, explosive, corrosive or carcinogenic. A dangerous substance can enter the body when a chemical product comes into contact with skin or eyes, or when the substance is inhaled or swallowed. It is therefore important that employees who work with chemicals are aware of the hazards and adopt safe work practices to avoid chemical exposure.

You can find more information from our info sheet.

Ingredients and their impacts

Substance What it does? Examples In which products could be found? Impact on humans Impact on environment
Abrasive Insoluble materials that provide a mechanical action to the cleaning function Natural minerals, such as calcite, feldspar, quartz and silica Abrasive cleaners for dishwashing or surface cleaning Non-hazardous
Acid Used for the removal of inorganic deposits Phosphoric acid, oxalic acid citric acid Rust removers,
toilet bowl cleaners
descalers and delimers
metal cleaners and polishes,
tub, tile and sink cleaners
Corrosive or irritant depending on substance Non-hazardous
Alkalis Help to break down fats, oils, and other protein-based substances Sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate Drain openers, oven cleaners, disinfectant products, bleach Corrosive or irritant depending on substance Non-hazardous
Chlorine Can be used either as bleaching agent or disinfectant/ sanitizer Sodium hypochlorite Widely used in cleaning and disinfectant products; swimming pool chemicals Corrosive and irritant It is not likely to cause permanent environmental damage
Enzyme Are added to cleaners to help break down and remove soils and stains Protease Laundry detergents, stain removers, dish detergents, deodorizers Harmful Non-hazardous
Perfume, fragrances Mask unpleasant odors or provide a pleasant smell to the detergent Natural (lemon, lavender, pine) Artificial (limonene, musks) Widely used in various products Varies greatly, many are toxic. Fragrance chemicals are the most frequent allergens (including sides effects – skin sensitivity, dermatitis, asthma attacks and migraine
Peroxide Can be used either as bleaching agent or disinfectant /sanitizer Hydrogen peroxide Swimming pool chemicals, commonly used in various products Corrosive, oxidizing Non-hazardous
Phosphate Provides a source of moderate alkalinity and supports the cleaning process whilst tying up water hardness minerals Sodium tripolyphosphate Laundry detergents, dishwashing detergents, metal polishes, may be used in specialty cleaners, such as concrete cleaners Non-hazardous Hazardous – causes eutrophication
Quaternary Ammonium Compound (QAC) The quaternaries are cationic surfactants with germicidal (disinfectant) properties Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (benzalkonium chlorides) Dishwashing detergents, window cleaners, “all-purpose” cleaners, floor products, disinfectant sprays, air fresheners and other products with anti-microbial activity Can be no-harmful, but most likely is harmful, when included in a product used in hotel industry Varies greatly
Solvent Used in detergent formulas to complement the cleaning efficiency Ethanol, isopropanol, glycol ethers, xylene, toluene Stain removers, dry cleaning agents, paints, lacquer, glue, cleaning products Varies greatly Varies greatly
Surfactant 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. Anionic, cationic, non-ionic, amphoteric Most cleaning products, such as, laundry detergents, surface cleaners and dishwashing detergents Varies greatly Varies greatly