Restaurant fumes are a source of concern for owners, employers, employees, and patrons of the food-service industry. The enticing aromas that are voluntarily piped out into the open air to attract customers harm no one, of course. It is the indoor slew of smoke, odors, particulates from food waste, chemical fumes, dust, dirt, and bacteria that can be of concern. Adverse health effects can result from routinely breathing in the contaminated air in most restaurants. Investing in an air purification system is a smart move on the part of owners or operators of restaurants.
It is easy to underestimate the level of indoor air pollution present in a modern food-service establishment. Besides the obvious kitchen smoke, garbage, cleaning chemicals, and re-circulated air, there are a number of seemingly unlikely pollutants that can be present. Upholstery for furniture, wood paneling, carpeting, and building and construction materials can all contain dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde. Unseen gas leaks are also common enough in restaurants and other large buildings to be worth taking precautions. Air purifiers can reduce the ambient levels of such pollutants in the air and make a restaurant a safer place for everyone.
Although most modern air ventilation systems have their own air filters, they typically are only rated to filter the most common forms of dust, smoke, and allergens. Additionally, a building’s ventilation system is less subject to routine cleaning and maintenance than an air purifier can be. Ventilation filters often become clogged and then sit, uncleaned, circulating dirty air. By comparison, an air purifier is much more accessible and easy to maintain, resulting in cleaner air.
It is food-service employees who are the most vulnerable to harm from breathing contaminated air in a kitchen or restaurant environment. Working for hours at a time among smoke, dust, chemicals, trash, and other air pollutants can prove unhealthy for workers. Those with allergies or respiratory problems are especially prone to difficulties or aggravations of their illness. Food-service workers should therefore be provided with a clean-air environment by their employers, if only to avoid unnecessary illnesses or lawsuits.
Next to employees, customers of restaurants are the most susceptible to indoor air pollution. Complaints about second-hand smoke have mostly been resolved through the use of smoking and non-smoking sectioning. The level of intrinsic pollution found in restaurant air can still cause problems, however. As is the situation with employees, customers may have allergies, illnesses, or respiratory issues. Restaurant owners may wish to invest in an air purifier in their establishment to provide for the good health and reduced litigiousness of their customers.
Some of the highest potential costs to restaurant owners and employers are related to health. Unhealthy employees work fewer hours and less efficiently. Unhealthy customers complain and bring lawsuits or other penalties. An unhealthy establishment may be shut down by health regulators. Air quality in particular is subject to neglect in overall health and safety considerations, and is thus prone to cause problems.
The reasons for the installation of an air purifier in a restaurant are fairly clear, but owners, especially of small businesses, may balk at the price of such systems. A quality portable air purifier suitable for a small one-story building costs around $ 500 as of 2010. A “quality” air purifier simply means a purifier that contains both a HEPA filter capable of filtering sub-micron particles, as well as chemical-adsorbent materials such as activated carbon and zeolite. Sturdy construction, long filter life, warranties, and low noise level are also factors in choosing a quality air purifier, and add to the cost.
Given the benefits of having a restaurant that meets health standards for air quality, the cost may be thought of as insurance rather than an extravagance. Restaurant fumes are an understated danger to employees and customers of restaurants. Insuring the health of both employees and customers is a duty and a responsible business practice for restaurant owners and employers. Air purifiers are one crucial component of such responsible practices.
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