Hotel back of house areas may be a common source of offensive odours and odour complaints. These areas may include garbage / refuse rooms, loading docks, commercial kitchens, designated outdoor smoking areas or sewer vents.
This article seeks to discuss possible odour control considerations for these back of house areas.
Generally, an odour is perceived when chemicals in gaseous form stimulate the receptors in your nose. These odours can be organic or inorganic based. Examples of different, hazardous or unpleasant odours include diesel exhaust, decaying plant matter, sewer gases and mould or yeast spoors due to dampness. Given that the human nose has hundreds of receptors that are uniquely coded by DNA to each individual, reactions to odours can be quite subjective and dependent on individual sensitivities. An odour that may be pleasant to one – may be unpleasant to another. Similarly the strength of odour perceived from one person to another varies widely, making it difficult at times to achieve an objective assessment.
According to the EPA (the statutory authority responsible for administering the Environmental Protection Act), “an offensive odour is one that affects the general life, health and wellbeing of an individual as a result of the intensity, character, frequency and duration of the odour.” Odorous gases most commonly become an issue because of their nuisance value and – generating complaints by surrounding neighbours. The EPA usually investigates odour complaints for industrial and large commercial premises, whilst local councils investigate odour complaints for domestic and smaller commercial premises (such as restaurants).
Hotel back of house areas such as garbage / refuse rooms, loading docks, commercial kitchens, designated outdoor smoking areas or sewer vents, bio-treatment units and septic systems may be a common source of odour complaints.
Table 1: Common emission types and odourous gases
Basically to clean air from gaseous contaminants there are three (3) main mechanisms:
Several approaches exist to reduce odour in garbage rooms (using the above-mentioned principals):
The main way to reduce odour coming inside from loading docks:
Kitchens are initially a source of generally pleasant odours, however, when exhausted into communal or residential areas, they may be found offensive due to odour, smoke, heat or other reasons. In general the approaches to this are:
Exterior and less frequently, interior smoking rooms form a significant legal and OH&S challenge, however, the technical solution for the odour issues is well understood and established. This includes:
In general, these systems will require custom design and large scale air volume movements, involving significant room for plant and equipment, so retro-fits are generally problematic.
It should be noted that any of these system will not avoid the inevitable health effects of primary smoke inhalation, and only reduce, but not eliminate, secondary inhalation effects.
Many “green-buildings” are taking opportunities to enhance their status with various local recycling systems for waste water and materials. The build up of odours in these systems is inevitable, and only hazardous in unusual, enclosed circumstances (e.g. Carbon Monoxide or Hydrogen Sulphide). In locations where hazardous levels have been identified, adequate sensing and alarm systems, such as carbon monoxide detectors, need to be allowed for in the design of systems.
In general, the ways that most of the “non-hazardous” odours are dealt with is by capture, treatment and then exhaust of the air:
Odours are seldom hazardous, but should be taken seriously as they can often be an indicator of more significant problems located within the Hotel. This may include black mould from leaks or excessive carbon monoxide from diesel operation in inadequately ventilated areas.
Written by Jonathan Bunge (M.ENG Chemical), Shannon Roger (B.Ed) and Dr Allan Heckenberg (PhD) for Airepure Australia 2016. Published in The Hotel Engineer, Volume 21 No 3, October 2016.
AS/NZS 1668.1: The use of ventilation and air conditioning in buildings. Part 1: Fire and smoke control in buildings: SAI Global 2015
AS/NZS 1668.2: The use of ventilation and air conditioning in buildings. Part 2: Mechanical ventilation in buildings: SAI Global 2012
Hvitved-Jacobsen T., Vollertsen J., Yongsiri C., Nielsen A.H., Abdul-Talib S: Sewer microbial processes, emissions and impacts, Aalborg University – Department of Environmental Engineering DENMARK, April 2002
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