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.

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