Don’t Mask It; Clean It: Using Air Purifiers for College Campuses and Locker RoomsTim Self
Something stinks, and it’s time we talked about it.
Across the nation, college campuses large and small, from the SEC or the Big 10 to the small liberal arts colleges, have one thing in common. Their sports facilities—their locker rooms in particular—stink.
We’re not talking about the quality of their facilities or their athletic achievements. No, we mean this literally: just about no matter where you look (or sniff), locker rooms smell bad.
You may not always notice the stench, because college athletics departments (and related facilities and teams) go to great lengths to deal with the smell. Those efforts may mitigate the worst of the offensive scents, but the underlying causes are always there, lurking.
A Massive Cover-Up
The most common “solution” to locker room odors is simply to cover them up with sprays, air fresheners, or cleaning products. But these are not real solutions at all: they simply mask odors in the air; they do little to nothing to treat the causes of the stink.
In other words, it’s a massive cover-up. These products aren’t really cleaning the air; they’re just masking the problem.
And while covering up offensive smells is better than nothing, it doesn’t do anything to address the root cause of athletic odors: poor indoor air quality (IAQ). In some cases, harsh fragrances and cleaners can even add to the IAQ problem for sensitive athletes.
The Smell Isn’t the Worst Part
Even worse, the smell isn’t the biggest problem. The sources of those smells are more complicated than just sweaty uniforms and players. Locker room environments are frequently moist, warm, and poorly ventilated. In other words, they’re what the Cleveland Clinic and many others call the perfect breeding ground for bacteria (including staphylococcus), viruses, and fungi (including athlete’s foot and ringworm).
These health concerns are more than just mild annoyances, too. Staph infections are spread by surface contact with open wounds (including the small nicks, scrapes, and cuts common to many sports). While infections are usually mild, some can become life-threatening and even end an athlete’s career.
Brandon Noble, a nine-year NFL veteran, had his career cut short by a MRSA infection (a drug-resistant staph infection). And he’s not the first
Cleaning Products Only Go So Far
Given the threat of surface-to-surface transmission, sanitizing surfaces in locker rooms should be a top-of-mind concern. Cleaning products are an essential tool for keeping locker room facilities sanitary, but they only go so far.
These efforts address only the contaminants that live and spread via surface contact and don’t do anything to deal with airborne particulates, including airborne viruses, mold, and fungus.
They may even make IAQ worse by adding particulates to the air, such as with aerosol cleaning sprays.
A Better Solution: Air Purifiers for College Campus Locker Rooms
Surface sanitation efforts address surface transmission, but not airborne contaminants. Colleges and universities need a different, better, science-backed solution to address the latter: commercial air purifiers for college campus locker rooms.
Rather than hiding odors with scents and “odor neutralizers,” the best commercial air purifiers capture airborne particulates and cleanse them from the air inside the locker room.
Why are commercial HEPA air purifiers the necessary solution for your locker rooms and athletic facilities? Consider these three reasons.
Air Purifiers Address the Causes of Odor
First, air purifiers do more than mask locker room odors: they draw out odor-causing elements from the air, eliminating the root cause of the odor. They address the odors themselves by actually cleaning the air and removing the impurities, contaminants, and microbes that can make players sick.
HEPA air purifiers (like those from AirBox) have been proven to remove greater than 99.97% of airborne contaminants from the filtered air.
Not only that, but AirBox air purifiers also include a separate Odor Shield Filter in most units. These filters act as the first line of defense, trapping larger odor-causing particles and lessening the load that the HEPA filter has to carry.
Air Purifiers for College Campuses Improve IAQ in Locker Rooms and Other Spaces
Indoor air quality matters perhaps even more than that funky locker-room smell.
This is where air purifiers shine: because they reduce and nearly eliminate particulates and contaminants from indoor air, commercial air purifiers make an outsized impact on IAQ.
Improving IAQ can improve the health, well-being, and even performance of players and staff by reducing asthma and allergy responses and removing airborne viruses (such as COVID-19) from the air.
The US Department of Education (among numerous other agencies) recommends HEPA air filters as a complement to outdoor air exchange because it effects virtually the same CO2 reduction as natural air exchange.
Administrators and athletic directors cannot afford to ignore the absolute necessity of air purifiers for college campus athletic facilities.
Air Purifiers Provide Peace of Mind
Lastly, air purifiers provide vital peace of mind. Ductless units (like several AirBox solutions) sit in a space, visible to all who enter the locker room. Implementing air purifiers in your locker rooms is one visible or tangible way to tell players, parents, and staff alike that you’re serious about protecting health and performance.
Start Your Safe Air Plan Today
Implementing air purifiers in your locker rooms (or across your broader college campus) is a smart play for all these reasons and more. But getting truly reliable coverage requires more than a haphazard distribution of air purifiers. It takes a customized, engineered plan that accounts for the size of your facilities, occupancy levels, and more.
AirBox’s Safe Air Plan is the solution: every AirBox installation starts with a custom Safe Air Plan to ensure you’re getting the coverage you need for reliable, science-backed safe air. Our team will analyze your facilities and build out a coverage plan for you.