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Providing An Air Of Hospitality

June 28, 2011

Webster’s defines hospitality as hospitable treatment, reception or disposition. The root of the word comes from hospital, the Latin root meaning “guest room” however, the hospitality industry is increasingly under pressure to discriminate (define this as a little less hospitable) when it comes to accommodating guests who smoke, have pets, have mores of another culture, or want to have special events that are open to all kinds of people with all kinds of “habits.”

It is necessary to understand the function of the human brain in evaluating the hospitable attitude of the air in a facility. Most people evaluate air based on its smell and the olfactory sense is connected to and controlled by the Limbic System.

The Olfactory part of the Limbic System2

The deep limbic system directly processes the sense of smell. The olfactory system is the only one of the five sensory systems that goes from the sensory organ to directly where it is processed in the brain. The messages from all the other senses (sight, hearing, touch and taste) are sent to a “relay station,” the thalamus, before they are sent to their final destination in different parts of the brain. Because the sense of smell goes directly to the deep limbic system it is easy to see why smells can have such a powerful impact on our feeling states. Current research has demonstrated that females, on average, have a larger deep limbic system than males and this may explain their ability to discern many more smells and odors than can their male counterpart. The deep limbic system, along with the deep temporal lobes has also been reported to store highly charged emotional memories, both positive and negative. Pleasant smells evoke pleasant feelings and draw people toward you, whereas unpleasant smells cause people to withdraw.3

So the question becomes, “How can the owner of a restaurant, bar, hotel or motel, gaming facility, bowling alley, pool hall, hotel or motel, private club, or any kind of facility where you want to welcome everyone, be hospitable (interpret this to mean “smell good”) to one group without offending another group?” Particulate phase and gas phase air filtration is an acceptable alternative for many of these issues.

This article will examine some of the ways air filtration can clean the air and can allow people to be hospitable to everyone while entertaining a wide variety and diverse group.

Cigar/Cigarette Smoking

Possibly, the single most offensive air contaminant with which the hospitality industry must deal is cigar and cigarette smoking.

Reuters News Service: Cuba, on Feb. 7, banned smoking in air-conditioned public buildings, theaters, schools, sports centers, buses and taxis as part of a health initiative. Cigar aficionados who see Cuba as the Mecca of smoking are dumbfounded by the smoking ban in Cuban they say has let down the cause for smokers’ rights worldwide.

Still, the hundreds of cigar lovers and retailers who showed up at the annual Habanos tobacco industry festival were grateful for a reprieve that allowed them to light up freely for the week. Smokers puffed away at opening night in Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts.
“Nobody could believe Cuba would ban smoking. It’s like Spain banning wine,” said Jose Luis Flores, a sommelier at a top restaurant in Toledo, Spain, who attended the event sponsored by Cuba’s famed tobacco industry. “It’s a bad idea to prohibit smoking in Cuba. If you can’t smoke here, where can you smoke?” he said.

“No Smoking” signs have gone up in public offices and hotels removed ashtrays from lobbies, but it is far from clear how effective the ban will be in Cuba.4

While On The Other Hand:

  • a voluntary program launched 3 months ago aimed at encouraging Paris’s 12,452 bistros and brasseries to declare themselves smoke-free zones has been adopted by barely 30.5
  • a ban on smoking in all public buildings in Liverpool (England) looks set to collapse.
  • closer to home, an increasing number of smoking ban violations in New York are being rejected by the courts.7
  • a smoking ban in Lincoln, Nebraska has been suspended after a group of bar owners turned in enough petitions last week to repeal the ban.8

In the US, cigar bars and smoking in facilities, especially in restaurants, posses a huge social and economic dilemma for the hospitality industry. People who smoke – approximately 25% of men and 22% of women in the US population (as contrasted against 62.1% who are current classified as “drinkers”)2 – want to be welcomed in a facility just like any other patron and yet, they are usually prohibited from enjoying smoking in many public facilities and many private facilities also.

Can a hospitality facility owner accommodate both smoking and non-smoking patrons?

Successful Application #1 – Bar/Restaurant

In A Research Study
In 2001, an article in a newspaper in Boston (and subsequently reported in the ASHRAE Journal in October of 2002) discussed environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in 40 restaurants in southwest Boston. Restaurant types included well-known national chains along with locally owned stores. While there was several different variables in the study such as rooms with physical barriers and rooms without physical barriers between smoking and non-smoking, exhaust systems versus no exhaust system, air cleaners and no air cleaning devices, separate and the same HVAC systems and movement of air from non-smoking to smoking and vice versa, along with various combinations of all of the above, the report showed all kinds of variations in nicotine concentrations with every different type of configuration. As a result of the study, the authors felt that the direction of airflow appeared to be the, “key parameter,” for keeping smoking byproducts from going into the non-smoking area.

While the authors acknowledged that the “smoke eaters” removed particles from the air, they deemed them of, “questionable value” because they did not have gas phase media for the removal of these components of the smoke.9

Other Research
Another study involving two 30 m3 mixed chambers with smoking participants in one chamber and non-smoking participants in the other studied ETS deposition and found that operating an air filter in either the smoking or non-smoking chamber reduces daily lung dose. When the filter is placed in the nonsmoking chamber, lung dose for a male in the nonsmoking chamber is reduced up to 70%. However, when the air filter is located in the smoking chamber, particle dose to the lungs is reduced up to 70%…for males in either chamber.10

Successful Application #2 – Casino

NAFA Associate member, Tri-Dim Filter Corporation has been successfully installing air cleaners in bars, restaurants and casinos for several years. The Augustine Casino in Palm Springs is an example where smokers and non-smokers comfortably enjoy the gaming atmosphere together. The Augustine Casino has 22 units installed in their 32,000 square foot facility. Director of Facilities, Mr. Harold Rapp, speaks highly of the units as providing an indoor environment where everyone can enjoy the facility. “We choose these units for their design that provides ease of installation and service maintenance along with the beauty of being installed above the ceiling out of sight,” said Mr. Rapp. The units clean the air by removal of particulate contaminants with prefilters and 95% final filters along with activated carbon filters to remove offensive odors and other gas phase contaminants.

Casinos usually have shared HVAC systems and have been reluctant to try and segregate smokers from non-smokers because of being seen as less-than-accommodating to everyone.

Mr. Rapp commented that he is 100% pleased with the results of the units and so are the patrons of the casino. “We have a program of monthly and quarterly maintenance that keeps the units clean and functional,” said Rapp.

Successful Application #3 – Airports

One of the best examples of the use of particulate and gas phase filtration is in our nation’s airports. Because of the use of jet and aviation fuel, baggage cars and other motor vehicles in and around the facility, most airports incorporate both particle and gas phase filtration media for their HVAC systems to capture the unburned hydrocarbons.

Large air intakes on the roof of aviation facilities draw outdoor air for conditioning. Because carbon forms more compounds than any other element except hydrogen, it is necessary to remove these from the air when supplying air to a space to eliminate the noxious odors from planes and vehicles.

As a side benefit, airport air also offers an excellent opportunity to see the value of cleaning air of both particulates and gases as this creates high quality indoor air for the millions of people passing through airports each day. Many travelers have arrived at airports that do not have these types of systems and have been immersed in a variety of smells both pleasant and unpleasant.

High efficiency particulate filters combined with activated carbon and potassium permanganate provide the best removal efficiencies for these applications and provide high quality IAQ for airport air.

Successful Application #4 – Medical School/Animal Research Facilities

One of the more unique applications of gas phase contaminant removal was reported a few years ago at a NAFA meeting. A medical school utilized the top 2 floors of their school as an animal research facility. The rest of the building was utilized for teaching and as offices for doctors seeing people from the general public. In addition, the building housed an auditorium available for use by the general public.

Elevator shafts in the building were under negative pressure but the movement of the 2 elevator cars produced a piston-like air movement effect in the building, drawing the animal odor from the top and spreading them throughout the entire building. Many fixes were attempted by using ventilation but the odor, especially the odor from primates, continued to haunt the building. People refused to work in the building during certain times of the year because of the odors.

The fix occurred when self-contained air cleaning units were installed in the elevator lobbies of the top two floors with a 12” depth activated carbon/potassium permanganate mix. Odors were eliminated before they could enter the elevator shaft. With the “disappearance” of the odors, people were sure that the animals had been moved to another building and complaints ceased. The building continues to be used as a research facility and as a place where the general public can come for medical procedures.

Summary Conclusion

The hospitality industry has at its disposal, the ability to provide their clientele with a better indoor environment through increase levels of air filtration. Air filtration products and equipment, both particulate phase and gas phase offer a solution for a variety of indoor air problems facing the industry. Cigar and cigarette smoke and odor removal is possible with proper application of products and periodic maintenance procedures and allows a facility owner/manager to have both smokers and non-smokers accommodated in the same area. A side benefit to increased particulate and gas contaminant filtration is increased quality of the indoor air. This should be the first concern of all building owners and is even more critical in industries that must accommodate a wide array of people and diverse cultures.


  1. 2002-2005, The Amen Clinics Inc., A Medical Corporation
  2. Washington University School of Medicine
  3. Ibid,
  4. Reuters News Service – Feb., 2005
  5. The Guardian, Feb. 16, 2005
  6. Liverpool Echo, January 24, 2005
  7. New York Post, October 31, 2004
  8. Omaha Channel, July, 2004
  9. “ETS in Restaurants,” Kenneth M Elovitz, P.E., David Gordon, P.E., CIH, and Daniel J. Cashman, ASHRAE Journal , October 2002.
  10. “Effects of Interchamber Mixing, Ventilation and Filtration on Lung Dose from ETS, Shelly Miller-Leiden, Akhil Wadhera and Willaim Nazaroff. Dept. of Civil Engineering, Univ. of California at Berkley, Proceeding – Indoor Air ’93.
Providing an Air of Hospitality; Spring 2005 issue of Air Media
Authors: Brian Monk, Circul-Aire Division of Dectron, Inc. and Alan C. Veeck, CAFS, NAFA Staff