We’ve all heard those disgusting stories about the dust mites and mold lurking in those seemingly beautiful hotel rooms. But there’s new technology that’s attempting to clean up even what you can’t see, and to make you feel better. For the GLRC, Joyce Kryszak has more on the allergy-friendly rooms that scientists are putting to the test:
We’ve all heard those disgusting stories about the dust mites and mold lurking in those seemingly
beautiful hotel rooms. But there’s new technology that’s attempting to clean up even what you
can’t see, and to make you feel better. For the GLRC, Joyce Kryszak has more on the
allergy-friendly rooms that scientists are putting to the test:
They’re in there all right. And we’re not talking about the hotel guests. There are millions of bed
bugs, mold spores and other nasty things you wouldn’t want to sleep with. And no amount of
housecleaning, even in the nicest hotels, is going to chase them all out. So what’s a weary
traveler to do? Call in the professionals:
“We clean and sanitize the air-handling system, clean and sanitize all the soft surfaces. We
apply a shield to every surface in the room. We shock the room with ozone. We encase the
mattresses and pillows with mattress and pillow encasements. We install a purification system. And we filter chlorine from the water in the shower,” said Tom Pickles.
Tom Pickles is director of operations for Pure Solutions. The company is one of those taking
part in this new, experimental research. They have an arsenal of what they call seven different
interventions. The company uses a process that combines chemistry and technology, to
prevent or greatly reduce air born pollutants. Pickles says it’s definitely needed especially in
hotel rooms, where people aren’t the only ones enjoying the fine linens:
“The conditions inside your mattress and inside your pillow are very hospitable to a dust mite,”
said Pickles. “Their favorite food in the world is dead skin cells. You lay in your bed, you toss
and you turn and you’re constantly shedding dead skin cells. As you do that the dust mites will come
up from the bowels of your mattress, eat your dead skin cells and then go back down into your
Okay, that’s gross. But don’t pack for home just yet. Some hotels, such as this Marriot in
Buffalo, are offering what indoor air experts are calling “allergy-friendly rooms.” The idea is to
first literally shield everything in the room from microscopic mold and bacteria. Robert Baier
heads a research center at the University at Buffalo. He says the room is misted with a
“And so you create a vapor of a silicone. It goes to the surface and it makes it like an easy-
release surface, just like if you would have an easy-release label that you were going to stick
onto an envelope,” said Baier.
But what about the dust mites? Where do they go? Well, the experts agree some still might be
hanging out. But mattresses and pillows are covered with tightly woven microfiber wraps that at
least keep you from inhaling what they leave behind. What does break through all these
barriers is then filtered away.
The advanced technology filters are used in air conditioning units and under the bed, constantly
processing and pulling out air contaminants. Baier says that makes breathing a whole lot easier.
“We’ve got living cells, called macrophages, which are like zambonis that are cleaning the ice at
the ice rink, and they’re cruising around the base of the lung all the time, dealing with cleaning up
these particles,” said Baier.
He says on a bad day, or in a room with poor air quality, that can mean lungs get over-taxed,
and that means people get sick easier. But scientists at UB want to make sure these new
technologies are actually doing what they advertise.
Baier demonstrates the hand-held device used to sample the air. The readings indicate that the
particle count does drop, about 75% once you leave the hallway and enter the purified room.
But he says more scientific tests will be done on the actual air particles. If tests bear out the
claims, it will be good news for the hotel industry. But Baier says scientists hope to find out if
the process could be used in hospitals and other places where air quality is critical:
“We’re very much concerned about eliminating infection, which as you know has become a big,
big problem as we’re getting into antibiotic resistant micro-organisms,” said Baier. “We think
that’s because of the hiding places that these organisms are finding in things like air conditioning
units, in coils and filters.”
For now, industry officials are glad to be making hotel stays a bit more pleasant for travelers in
several states around the country. The cost to convert and maintain each room is roughly 2,500
dollars. But right now, some hotels are offering the rooms for no extra charge, just to get
people comfortable with the idea of being able to breathe a little easier.
For the GLRC, I’m Joyce Kryszak.