Allergy-Friendly Accommodation Facilities

If you are one of millions of people around the world who are suffering from allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions, you might consider taking a look at accomodation facilities at the Hilton O’Hare, Chicago USA.

In 2005, it was one of the first hotels of it’s kind in the USA to take its indoor air quality standards to task. Located close to the O’Hare Airport, it offered healthier “allergy resistant” rooms for it’s guests affected by sensitivities and reactions to dust mite, mould and chemicals.

Research by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found 75% to 85% of asthmatics have positive reactions to skin tests of house dust. Common house dust is made up of many asthma and allergy triggers like animal danders, moulds, spores, pollen, dust mites, cockroach allergens. The triggers can aggravate respiratory problems including asthma, phlegm in throat, runny and blocked nose and also coughing and sneezing.

The pilot project involved designing special rooms for the Hilton by Nicholas Nardella from Environmental Technology Solutions, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA. It involved gutting then retro-fitting two rooms with eco-friendly products and materials, as well as employing a dehumidifier to minimise mould.

Everything leading to poor indoor air quality was addressed. Standard carpeting was replaced with wood flooring, much easier to clean and minimise dust. Door hardware, plumbing fixtures as well as other frequently touched areas were coated with an anti-bacterial coating to eliminate germs.

All paint, adhesives, coatings and furniture were free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and also other gases. Fabrics like furniture and drapes were manufactured with Environment Protection Agency (EPA) approved materials. The wall paper was perforated in order to avoid moisture from getting trapped and breeding mould spores.

Air purification systems were placed in each room, collecting 99% of airborne particles and gases. A monitoring system allowed the place to maintain proper levels of odours, gases, carbon monoxide, humidity and temperature, minute by minute. Mr Nardella said: “as an example house keeping walked in and commenced using ammonia or some other cleaner that off-gases, the hotel knows in ten minutes, as opposed to days later.”

Mr Nardella added there was a “premium” initial cost for the construction upgrades. He would not provide a figure at the request of the hotel but did state that the chain expected a return on it’s initial investment in less than two years. The rooms were rented practically every night and booked far in advance.

Hilton is looking to grow the pilot program to include 500 rooms across 10 cities. Source: Reed Business Information (US) 2005