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Odour assessment

Odour Assessment & Survey Consultants

As expert odour assessment consultants, Phlorum are experienced in providing the full range of odour consultancy services, including the presentation of expert evidence at Public Inquiries.

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What Is An Odour Assessment Survey?

An odour assessment survey is a means by which the character, concentration and contextual effects of an odour is, or mixture of odours are, measured and evaluated.

Air quality assessments of the potential for an odour to be considered offensive is necessary for a variety of reasons related to development planning and the operation of some industrial processes.

Improvements to the environmental permitting process mean that the requirement for smelly industries to prevent their odours spreading offsite has allowed land close to them to be opened up for odour sensitive types of development, such as residential housing.

What Are The Difficulties In Monitoring Odour?

Further difficulties in monitoring odours are that there are wide variations in the sensitivities and perception of people to different odours, and most odours are made up of a complex mixture of different compounds.

Additionally, the concentrations at which some odours are detected are very low and the periods over which they can be experienced as being offensive can occur intermittently over just a few seconds, which can make collecting samples and analysing them very difficult.

Often the best monitoring equipment for determining the strength, character and offensiveness of an odour is the human nose. This can be via an individual assessor in the field, a panel of “calibrated” assessors, or in a laboratory environment with a field sample using an item of equipment called an olfactometer.

For the same reasons that monitoring odours can be difficult, accurately predicting odour concentrations from a proposed source such as a new restaurant or sewage treatment plant can also be very difficult. However, computer dispersion models and other assessment techniques are recognised by regulators to provide useful information for determining planning applications and the granting of environmental permits.

Why Undertake An Odour Assessment Survey?

There can be a variety of reasons why an odour assessment might be needed.

In regulatory terms, many industrial processes require their environmental permit to consider, and potentially mitigate, odorous emissions. As such, it can be a requirement for any odour complaints to be investigated to determine whether or not any enforcement action might be necessary. This could then lead to an improvement notice to prevent the emissions from causing further nuisance complaints in the future.

Action to prevent odours from occurring can also be directed against restaurants and other odorous commercial uses such as nail painting bars. These are particularly an issue in dense urban areas where people live in close proximity to such businesses.

Another common reason for needing an odour assessment is to determine the extent of odour that might emanate from a smelly process in order to determine how close to it sensitive development might be allowable. This is particularly relevant to the siting of new residential developments on land close to sewage treatment works.

Who Needs An Odour Assessment Survey?

Environmental permitting and planning requirements are usually clear on whether survey and assessment of odours might be necessary. Odour assessment can be required for a multitude of situations where offensive odours might cause a nuisance.

If a Statutory Nuisance is caused, then a notice can be served on the offender to stop activities causing the nuisance and/or for improvement works to be undertaken to prevent further nuisance occurring in the future.

Phlorum is routinely appointed to provide odour monitoring and assessments for proposed facilities and for determining or refuting nuisance complaints from existing processes.

Abattoirs Odours

Generally, these processes do not produce significant odours. However, some processes such as tankering off stored blood, handling some wastes (scorched hair and black gut contents and lairage mucking out) can be highly offensive.

Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Odour

Certain activities associated with animal waste can be particularly odorous. Uncovered slurry tanks from dairy farms and muckspreading on fields can be sources that are particularly prone to causing nuisance complaints. Pig farming and most intensive husbandry processes require carefully planning and mitigation as they can cause very high levels of offensive odours.

Food Processing Odour

Many types of food processing result in odours that in the right context could be considered quite pleasant. However, if they are strong and persistent then the odours could quickly become a nuisance to local residents. Some processes emit particular odours that many would consider unpleasant, such as beer brewing and seafood handling.

Restaurant Odour

Similar to food processing, commercial kitchen odours can be quite pleasant, but these can become quite invasive and irritating if they are a constant annoyance. In urban centres, where residential and commercial kitchen uses are often located on top of one another, nuisance odours from restaurants can be a common problem.

Wastewater (Sewage Treatment Works) Odour

The treatment of sewage and other waste waters is a vital infrastructure service. With demands for development on suitable land and with the improvement in technology to treat such waste, proposals to build property closer to treatment works is requiring more and better assessment of odours as part of the planning process.

Industrial Processes Odour

A huge variety of processes use a wide range of highly odours chemicals such as organic volatile compounds, which can be detected at very low concentrations and which can result in elevated nuisance complaints.

Our Odour Assessment Services

The following is a list of odour survey and assessment services offered by Phlorum:

  • Odour Expert Witnesses
  • Odour Impact Assessments in support of planning and Environmental Permitting
  • Odour Dispersion Modelling
  • Odour Sampling and Analysis (laboratory olfactometry undertaken by a subcontractor)
  • Odour Surveys
  • Odour Management Plans
  • Odour complaint and nuisance investigation
  • Odour mitigation planning and advice on mitigation measures
  • Odour abatement plant options appraisal

If you are unsure which odour assessment services you require, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our expert air quality consultants, who will be happy to offer advice based on your specific needs and circumstances.

Air Quality Case Studies

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