Odor Assessments

shutterstock 61740580It can be difficult dealing with the regulation of more subjective parameters, such as odor and noise.  Unfortunately, odor is often regulated under “nuisance” ordinances such as “not to interrupt the quality of life for nearby residents”.  To deal with such qualitative regulations, it is important to work with an experienced group that provides sound methodology when developing any responses.

Odor complaints are, more often than not, handled at a local level where agency staff are all too often ill-equipped and inexperienced with such issues. Regulations based on qualitative/descriptive standards make it difficult to respond to odor complaints.  Further difficulties arise when pertinent and specific information is not obtained or provided as quickly as possible to assist with evaluating an odor complaint.  Odor is directly related to the strength of the source and often times can be affected by multiple factors.  Response time can also greatly affect odor issues.  For example, a complaint received by a local building department may take several days to reach the actual facility.  Further, odor complaints are often vague and ill-informed, if the complainant simply says there is a “bad smell at County Rd X and Y”.

As such, a facility with odor complaints should be proactive and develop a program in an effort to obtain specific data and collect pertinent event information as well as obtain facility specific information.  The facility should also work with local officials to be sure that odor complaints are thoroughly investigated as soon as possible.  Simple fact checks, such as a drive to the location, can be invaluable to an odor program.  Depending on the nature of the calls, the severity and frequency, other activities can be implemented to further evaluate conditions and devise mitigation efforts, if necessary.

RTP’s scientific odor evaluations provide information to guide realistic program objectives to allow swifter resolution for all parties.  RTP’s experience can assist the implementation of a well designed odor program to respond appropriately.  In addition, RTP’s experience in air dispersion modeling and air pollution control can provide crucial information to help narrow the focus and strategy for a successful resolution.  Since odor assessments are case specific, please contact an RTP office for more detailed information on how we can help you.