Friday, 19 August 2016

What causes Hospital Smell?

If you stepped into the hospital, you can immediately notice a peculiar corrosive smell? What makes hospital to smell like that? Is it the smell of diseases? No, it is the smell of disinfectant that hospitals prefer to use to make the place clean and free from bacteria and viruses.

Louis Pasteur first observe that phenol kills bacteria and he used this substance to produce vaccines. This observation lead to develop the first antiseptic wound treatment in 1867.By spraying infected open leg fractures with aqueous phenol solution (carbolic acid), he could lower the mortality from such wounds from 60% to 10%. As a result carbolic acid was used over decades for the disinfection of hospitals and operating theaters, causing the typical unpleasant hospital smell.

Some of the other disinfectant used in hospitals which gives specific odor are given below.

Disinfectant used in Hospitals
Disinfectant used in Hospitals 
The sense of smell is not considered adequate warning for the presence of hazardous materials. By the time you smell a chemical you are being exposed. In addition, many chemicals cause olfactory fatigue and deaden the sense of smell. Another substance which is responsible for hospital smell is iodoform. It is produced from ketones and is a pale yellow insoluble solid with a sweet antiseptic “hospital smell”.

Exposure to phenol through inhalation also leads to adverse health effects. Inhalation causes severe irritation of the respiratory tract with coughing, burns and breathing difficulty. Hospital smell a medley of sanitizers, chemicals and bodily fluids that causes many people to experience a vague sense of dread, unease and stress.


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