A Rose by Any Other Name?

Billionaire philanthropist and tech pioneer Bill Gates recently visited Geneva, Switzerland on a mission: to find the worst smell he could inhale and still remain standing. Sounds like a more of a wacky fraternity stunt than a fact-finding mission from one of the richest men in the world, but there was method to his madness.


In many parts of the developing world, disease runs rampant from the creation of makeshift bathrooms and outhouses; oftentimes the use of open pit latrines is bypassed by people because of the overpowering smells. In those cases, people then “create” their own facilities, going anywhere and everywhere out in public. This results in a massive sanitation issue with the spread of more germs and disease, and increases the instances of rats carrying and passing along these diseases at a rapid rate. In fact, 800,000 children die annually from sanitation-related illnesses.

The Thinking

And so, Gates found himself at a renowned perfume and scent laboratory, sniffing from decanters of foul-smelling liquids developed specifically for him. By identifying the most rancid smell, researchers at the lab think they can reverse-engineer a fragrance to combat that smell, by breaking down the liquid to a molecular level and counteracting the molecules. Then, the fragrance could be used to mask smells in open air latrines in developing countries, blocking receptors in the nose that identify bad smells. The thinking: If the smell was mitigated, more people would use the latrines, which eliminates the spread of fecal matter in open areas and reduce disease.

The researchers have a long way to go, but with Gates’ commitment to the project, a light has been shone on the need to eliminate odors. What’s more, odors aren’t just a problem in the developing world. In developed countries, bathroom odors can adversely affect a company’s perception among employees and guests. But unlike the developing world, odors needn’t be masked in “first world” countries.

The Power of Aeramax PRO

For example, AeraMax® Professional commercial-grade air purifiers not only remove germs, allergens and bacteria from indoor spaces like bathrooms, but they also use unique carbon filters to capture bathroom odors from indoor air. So, instead of masking odors with heavy perfumes, AeraMax Professional air purifiers truly scrub the air, offering facility managers an effective and efficient way of solving an age-old problem.