When considering how to handle foul odors in any building, the goal for facility managers should always be complete and consistent elimination. However, an important decision remains: Is a scented or a fragrance-free odor elimination program a better option for your facility? From hotels and restaurants to schools, offices and healthcare environments, managers should examine the potential benefits or drawbacks to each option.
Making Sense of Scents
Simply hearing the phrase “air freshener” may invoke the idea of a pleasant, fresh-smelling fragrance for many people. But some fragranced products can have adverse health effects on those in close proximity. In one survey of adults in multiple countries, greater than one-third of respondents reported that fragranced products affected their health. The country with the highest share of respondents reporting fragrance-related health issues was the United States at 35%.
Some aerosol air freshening products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like propane and butane that may trigger adverse health effects, including nose and throat irritation, nausea and allergic skin reactions, among others. In addition to the health hazards of some fragranced products, they often simply mask odors temporarily and do not provide the consistent odor elimination needed to keep malodors away.
Facility managers who decide to use fragrances in their odor elimination program should consider an oxygen fuel cell system (rather than aerosols) with no added VOCs. This type of system continuously dispenses fragrance consistently and attacks malodors at the source to completely eliminate them rather than simply covering them up.
In addition to effective odor elimination, oxygen fuel cell systems allow users to customize the fragrance type and intensity to suit the environment. For example, women’s restrooms may benefit from a soothing lavender scent while men may be more receptive to a fruit-forward fragrance in restrooms. Some hotels and retail stores opt for fragrance, as it helps customers associate positive scent memories with their brand.
Certain odor elimination solutions contain proprietary agents that tackle malodor molecules at the molecular level and neutralize them. With this ingredient, an odor elimination product does not necessarily require fragrances. In fact, this may be the public preference in some cases. In one study, over half of respondents said they would prefer healthcare facilities to be fragrance-free. In addition, according to the same study, “if given a choice between staying in a hotel with or without fragranced air, 60% would choose a hotel without fragranced air.”
These findings demonstrate that in some environments, a majority of building occupants may prefer to have a scent-free experience. Facility managers should carefully consider which spaces in their buildings should remain fragrance-free, or if the whole indoor space should stay odorless. In restaurant restrooms, for example, it may be encouraging for a guest to smell a pleasant fragrance as a reassurance that the facility is clean and well-maintained. Meanwhile, the dining area and kitchen may prefer to use non-fragrant cartridges for odor elimination to keep fragrances from mixing with the smells of delicious dishes. Hospitals typically prefer scent-free air care solutions as well to avoid aggravating sensitivities.
As with fragranced odor elimination, fragrance-free programs should feature products that are both effective and safe for human health. Look for eco-friendly oxygen fuel cell technology that uses cartridges without added VOCs or propellants and has the power to continuously dispense odor eliminators for 30, 60 or even 90 days.
Not a Binary Choice
Each facility’s odor elimination program should exist to meet the needs of that building specifically. Therefore, an odor elimination strategy that employs some fragranced solutions and others that are fragrance-free can be perfectly reasonable. Facility managers should assess the potential health risks of certain air care systems, such as aerosols, and look for odor elimination solutions that keep foul odors at bay consistently and continuously, whether they emit fragrance or not.