Legionnaires’ disease is a powerful pathogen that can easily spread through the air conditioning system. Image: Neptune Air conditioners

Citing insufficient manpower and low budgets, hotel operators are guilty of negligence of the most basic health and safety checks. From hotel owners to senior engineers there is little

Citing insufficient manpower and low budgets, hotel operators are guilty of negligence of the most basic health and safety checks in their hotel air conditioning units.

From hotel owners to senior engineers there is little enthusiasm or willpower to act responsibly. 

Some moulds produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and more serious problems including death.

Black mould in hotel air conditioning units showing years of neglect

Not enough is being done to clean and sanitize air conditioning equipment. Annual cleaning is a minimum. Inspections by outside engineers have found black mould and dangerous bacteria in Asia’s hotels some showing signs of not being cleaned in decades. Air quality is compromised. Spores and microscopic pathogens like Legionnaires’ disease –known killers – go unchecked.

Hotel operators have failed to act and there is evidence that some local operators ignore public safety. Even top-level management at head offices fails to act to deal with air quality issues that are known to cause illness, preferring to ignore the problem rather than tackle it head-on.

The problems have been well documented by shocked engineers specializing in air handling equipment that has been shared with this journalist. Hotel operators in Asia continue to ignore the warning signs. Guests health and safety is often compromised.

Experts described this inactivity by hotel operators as a scandal, hotel operators are unwilling to admit that a problem exists. It’s considered nonessential work and is only paid lip-service.

The air we breathe contains millions of microscopic organisms. The vast majority are harmless, however, given the right conditions of moisture and heat they can turn nasty. Black mould can develop and responsible engineers have ways to tackle the problem. Today this can be done without the use of hazardous chemicals like acids that produce dangerous fumes and destroys equipment.

Turning a blind eye to public safety is not new in Asia. There is little enforcement. Too few resources and its low priority status means that inspections are few and far between.

And it’s not just Asia. As recently as 2015 a spectacular failure in a New York hotel led to 10 people’s death in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. More than 100 people were hospitalized. A stark warning to hotels in Asia where the dangers are so often ignored and there are fewer inspections.

Legionnaires’ disease is a powerful pathogen that can easily spread through the air conditioning system

If an outbreak occurs the damage is huge. 

Mould especially black mould, is rife in hotels in Asia, with its warm tropical climate. It presents significant health problems.