NATIONAL REPORT—Your guests may shower in it without thinking about it, but is chlorinated water really good for them? Guests with chemical sensitivities would quickly say no but other travelers are beginning to feel the same way. Increasingly, guests are seeking out hotels that offer chlorine-free, filtered shower water. According to one industry expert, some guests even travel with their own showerheads in case filtered water is not available.
If you think of shower filters as an unnecessary capital expense, you may want to reconsider. Many hotels are charging premium rates for rooms that offer filtered shower water as part of a larger clean room experience.
What is the problem with chlorinated water? The human body absorbs chlorine through the skin, mouth, eyes and lungs. In a hot shower, chlorine gas is released from the water and is easily breathed in. The longer one stays in the shower, the greater the intensity of the gas. The oxygen carrying capacity of the lungs may be reduced because of it. Tom Pickles, director of operations for Pure Solutions NA, Cheektowaga, N.Y., says inhaled chlorinated vapor quickly gets into the bloodstream.
Skin is also affected by chlorine. In a hot shower, the chlorine reacts with oils in the skin to form chlorinated compounds. It is these that can be absorbed by the body. Prolonged exposure to chlorine can accelerate the skin’s aging process and impact the natural bacteria balance. Chlorine also has been linked to various cancers. Anyone who has gone swimming in heavily chlorinated water will know that the chemical also makes hair brittle.
Part of a Pure Room Experience
As part of its Pure Allergy Friendly Rooms program, which includes filtered air and drinking water, green cleaning processes and more, Pure Solutions offers a showerhead with an activated charcoal filter inside to remove chlorine. Pickles says each costs about $30.
“The ones we use have a six-month life span,” he says. “The feedback from guests has been very positive. They report that it is easier to rinse hair and skin is less irritated.”
Pickles says some hotels charge nothing extra for the Pure Allergy Friendly Rooms while others charge significantly more than the average rate. The Buffalo Niagara Marriott in Buffalo, N.Y., is an example of one hotel that currently offers the room option. (See release.) In regard to showerhead theft, Pickles says that has never happened in any of the rooms in which his company’s showerheads have been installed.
As part of its AllerFresh Accommodations program, which includes filtered air and drinking water, and fragrance free cleaning, Green Suites International includes a shower filter that incorporates KDF-55 filter media. The filter uses zinc and copper to eliminate 90 percent or more of the chlorine in shower water. Green Suites says the lifespan of its filter is 12 to 15 months. Green Suites sells its filters for about $30 to $35.
Dolores Bush, owner of Right Stuff One LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, distributes a similar non-charcoal-based KDF-55 shower filter. The showerheads her company sells come with filters and cost approximately $50. Replacement filters alone cost less. The showerheads also reduce water consumption and heating-related costs by up to 50 percent.
“People with asthma who have used these notice quite a difference,” Bush says.
She adds that even cleaning labor and costs can be reduced by using KDF-55 filters because copper acts like a fungicide and helps to kill mold and mildew.
Vitamin C in the Shower?
Sonaki America, Brea, Calif., sells a line of showerheads that use pharmaceutical grade Vitamin C in the filters to remove chlorine. The company says the Vitamin C also works as an anti-oxidant on the skin and makes hair shinier and softer. Sonaki’s filters last about three to six months assuming one shower is taken a day. According to Sonaki’s website, its showerheads (with two filters) start at $79 and replacement filters cost less than $9 a piece when bought in bulk.
Water & Salt Consulting, Sac City, Iowa, sells a Wellness Shower that not only filters out chlorine and other contaminants but also puts helpful trace minerals back in the water. It is geared more toward luxury hotels and spas and runs $249 for the showerhead and filter system and $189 for a replacement filter.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.