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Chemicals / Maintenance
May 2014 Tackling Trouble Areas

Developing An Eco-friendly Odor Management Strategy

Relying on chemical-based air fresheners can pose serious risks to public health.

May 06, 2014
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All too often, facility managers rely on synthetic fragrance solutions to deal with odor challenges.

These solutions are typically chemical-based and can actually pose significant health threats, particularly in schools and hospitals.

In fact, researchers from University of Maryland and Loyola College in Maryland released a white paper titled, “Fragrance in the Workplace is the New Second-Hand Smoke.”

The study was presented at an American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences (ASBBS) conference in 2009, and it outlines how both smoking and the use of synthetic fragrance can seriously inhibit indoor air quality.

Highlighting the six top-selling laundry products and air fresheners, findings concluded that, “nearly 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were emitted from the products.”

And since that research was conducted, the topic has pressed on and continues to garner additional attention.

The study also showcased how fragrance is a known respiratory irritant that impacts one in five people in the U.S.

The symptoms can include migraines, nausea, tightening of the throat and respiratory impairment in the asthmatic.

These aren’t health issues to be taken lightly, and they need to be considered when developing a sound odor management strategy.

Green Actually Works

Fortunately, odor management solutions exist today that help eliminate odors naturally, and are non-toxic, effective and engineered from simple formulas — like plant oils, food-grade surfactant and water.

These solutions contain no harmful VOCs, no alcohol and no artificial fragrances, making them safe to use in any environment.

And, despite perceptions about “green” cleaning products, these next-generation, eco-friendly solutions actually work.

There is a unique science behind these types of solutions where molecules from the eco-friendly odor management product make contact with malodor molecules through opposing electrostatic charges and random contact.

Once they are bound together, the odor management molecules absorb and destroy the odors on a molecular level.

Odors are eliminated, not covered up.

Industrial Heritage

Some of the most effective solutions come out of the industrial world, where only the strongest odor abatement solutions can counter odor issues in landfills, oil refineries, wastewater treatment facilities and the like.

Odor management issues occurring at industrial sites have significant repercussions when neighboring businesses and residences are impacted.

There can also be legal and legislative fallout to an industrial business when foul odor issues arise, further reinforcing the need for more sophisticated solutions. 

Safe Odor Management In Schools

Although foul odors have been shown to negatively impact learning, controlling odors in schools is tremendously difficult.

Due to schools being larger facilities — and having stretched cleaning supply budgets — many school districts rely on scented cleaners to counter a wide range of odor issues.

As highlighted in the University of Maryland study, children are particularly sensitive to the harsh chemicals found in many of the cleaning supplies.

With childhood asthma and allergy rates on the rise, many states across the U.S. are even beginning to adopt new green cleaning product procurement policies.

States like Arizona, Maine, Kentucky and Connecticut are adopting a new “green janitorial supplies contract,” which directs public agencies to purchase supplies that reduce the use of toxic chemicals.

Schools need to use eco-friendly odor management products that are 100 percent toxin-free and get the job done safely and effectively.

Thankfully, the new eco-friendly cleaning products available today provide schools with an odor management solution that is even more effective than the chemical-based solutions used in the past.

Hospitals And Quality Of Care

The core mission of any healthcare facility is to provide top-quality care while allowing patients to have a sense of dignity and normalcy.

Unfortunately, the business of saving lives and helping those in need can have some disagreeable foul odors.

From the smells of urine to those associated with wound care, from food waste to dirty linens, hospitals battle foul odors at every corner.

These odors can cause nervousness, unease and discomfort, and must be well managed — not only for the sake of the patients, but for the staff as well.

And with staffers continually challenged when it comes to providing quality care to larger quantities of patients on a daily basis, dealing with foul odors should not be on the “to do” list.

While it is clear an aggressive odor management system is needed, using toxic chemicals in facilities where patients are already ill and working to heal is counter-productive.

The combination of cleaning chemicals that simply mask odors and human-generated odors can actually cause patients to feel less dignified, and can serve as a reminder of their illnesses.


As the evidence mounts against synthetic fragrances and their negative impact on health, facility managers need to investigate eco-friendly cleaning solutions in order to preserve the health of those in their buildings, especially those most vulnerable.

Just as smoking has been banned inside public buildings, we may be headed to a day when toxic-cleaning products will be fully eliminated as well.


Amanda Daluga is the national sales manager for the Fresh Wave IAQ family of natural odor eliminating products. Fresh Wave IAQ is a division of OMI Industries, which has been providing odor abatement solutions for industrial, commercial and consumer markets worldwide since 1989.

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