Project at a Glance

Title: White Paper: Odor Complaints, Health Impacts, and Monitoring Methods

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Suffett, Irwin (Mel)

Contractor: UC Los Angeles

Contract Number: 18RD010

Research Program Area: Health & Exposure

Topic Areas: Ambient Air Quality Standards, Toxic Air Contaminants


As a basic principle, odors are caused by airborne chemicals. Merely identifying a subset of compounds in air, however, does not indicate which are contributing to the odor problem. The odor description (odor note), intensity, and frequency plus duration of the occurrence need to be understood to identify the odor source and take corrective actions. In other words, these factors (odor note, odor intensity, odor frequency and duration) provide an indication of which chemical(s) cause the odor, which in turn informs the optimal mitigation steps or technology. The level of odor offensiveness (hedonic tone) as well as odor note (e.g., sewage) and intensity (e.g., high or strong) can help prioritize nuisance odors by indicating the severity to the complainant or impacted population, and highly offensive odors may require immediate shutdown of the operation or source.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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