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Odor Emissions and Control for Collections Systems and Water Resource Recovery Facilities: Second Edition

Odor Emissions and Control for Collections Systems and Water Resource Recovery Facilities: Second Edition

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Odor Emissions and Control for Collections Systems and Water Resource Recovery Facilities: Second Edition

860 pagine
Jun 25, 2020


Odor Emissions and Control for Collection Systems and Water Resource Recovery Facilities, 2nd edition, is intended to be the primary reference document for current standards of practice for professionals involved in odor control at wastewater treatment facilities and collections systems. This manual covers all aspects of odor control in wastewater conveyance and treatment facilities, including the basics of odor testing and emissions, sensory analysis, local and state regulations, public outreach, and the technologies used to treat odors. Odor testing and control have undergone rapid advancements since the publication of the first edition of the Water Environment Federation's Manual of Practice 25, Control of Odors and Emissions from Wastewater Treatment Plants. The second edition brings an expanding body of knowledge and real-world experiences to the reader, and it embodies the current state of practice in the industry. The entire manual provides a comprehensive look at all aspects of odor control in the industry today. A new feature of this manual not included in the 2004 edition is the chapter entitled "Collection Systems," which addresses ventilation of sewers, air treatment, and chemical treatment. Odor control in water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) and solids handling facilities are also covered extensively. This manual also presents best available biological, chemical, and physical technologies for controlling odors; information on analyzing, measuring, and sampling odors; and tools for assessing odor impacts in surrounding neighborhoods and communities. In short, this manual teaches the proper aspects of how to be a good neighbor and share clean air around a treatment facility, while still providing indispensable wastewater services to the larger community.
Jun 25, 2020

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Odor Emissions and Control for Collections Systems and Water Resource Recovery Facilities - Water Environment Federation



This manual covers all aspects of odor control in wastewater conveyance and treatment including the basics of odor emissions, characteristics, regulations, and the use of technologies to treat these odors. Since the first edition of Manual of Practice (MOP) 25, Control of Odors and Emissions from Wastewater Treatment Plants, was published in 2004, there have been significant advancements in the field of understanding odor emissions and in applying technologies for effective treatment. This book is an embodiment of the current state of practice in the industry.

This second edition of this manual was produced under the direction of Neil Webster, Chair.

Authors’ and reviewers’ efforts were supported by the following organizations:


ALS Environmental, Houston, Texas

Air Quality Engineering, Bellevue, Washington

Black & Veatch

Brown and Caldwell

Hazen and Sawyer

HDR Inc.

Jacobs, Dallas, Texas

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., Dallas, Texas

King County—Wastewater Treatment Division, Seattle, Washington

Plummer Associates, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas

Porter Odor Science

St. Croix Sensory, Inc., Stillwater, Minnesota

V & A Consulting Engineers, Inc., Houston, TX

Webster Environmental Associates, Inc.



Neil A. Webster, P.E.




Odor testing and control have undergone rapid advancements in the last 16 years, with an expanding body of knowledge and real-world experiences that this manual seeks to capture and bring to the reader. This manual replaces and updates Water Environment Federation's Manual of Practice 25, Control of Odors and Emissions from Wastewater Treatment Plants. It is intended to be the primary reference document for current standards of practice for professionals involved in odor control at wastewater treatment facilities and collections systems.

This manual covers all aspects of odor control in wastewater conveyance and treatment facilities, including the basics of odor testing and emissions, sensory analysis, local and state regulations, public outreach, and the technologies used to treat odors. The manual embodies the current state of practice in the industry. A new feature of this manual that was not included in the 2004 edition is the chapter entitled Collection Systems, which addresses ventilation of sewers, air treatment, and chemical treatment.

The manual starts with examples of public policies to provide goals to prevent nuisance odors. The manual then proceeds through the origin of odors in sewer systems and treatment facilities, the emissions that can cause off-site odors, the many treatment methods and technologies to control odors, step-by-step methods to objectively quantify odor impacts in the community, and, finally, how to work with the community to resolve odor issues. Indeed, working with the community and establishing trust is a key element in implementing a successful odor control strategy. As such, a how-to guide is also introduced in the manual for the effective use of a complaint management system tool to track and record the cause of odor episodes while working with stakeholders and engaging the community through plant tours, meetings, educational materials, and social media.

Still, there is no substitute for good management practices to control odors, such as emissions testing, proper planning to meet the established goals, designs incorporating the best technologies for the application, and the ongoing task of operating and maintaining odor control systems. Monitoring the odor control systems, making adjustments to the equipment, replacing consumables in a timely manner, and assessing the potential impact in the community are all practices that are covered in this manual. Safety is a primary consideration when testing for hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and when working in collection systems and water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs), and all personnel should carefully follow their organization's safety guidelines.


Each chapter in this manual serves a specific purpose so that each can be referenced as a stand-alone document, whereas the entire manual provides a comprehensive look at all aspects of odor control in the industry today. Although specific vendors or brands are sometimes referenced in the manual, these references serve as examples only for the convenience of the reader; they do not represent an endorsement by the authors of a particular odor control product.

Chapter 2 addresses how odors are analyzed and measured, and Chapter 3 identifies the current regulations and policies. There is a need to know how to sample for odors and odorous compound emissions, and that is covered in Chapter 4. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 address odor control in collection systems, WRRFs, and solids handling facilities, respectively. This manual presents best available technologies for controlling odors, starting with the coverage found in Chapter 8 of bioscrubbers, biofilters, and other sustainable methods that are experiencing the highest growth in popularity in the industry because of significant advancements in design and effectiveness over the last 15 years. Chapter 9 describes chemical systems such as scrubbers, and Chapter 10 details physical odor control technologies such as carbon adsorbers.

The final two chapters of the book assess odor impacts in neighborhoods and communities served by WRRFs and wastewater collection systems. Chapter 11 provides information on assessment tools, such as atmospheric dispersion modeling, to predict impacts to the community and prioritize projects and the allocation of capital dollars to meet odor standards and goals. Chapter 12 covers public outreach and involvement as part of best management practices relating to being a good neighbor.

In conclusion, this manual teaches the proper aspects of how to be a good neighbor and share clean air around a treatment facility, while still providing indispensable wastewater services to the larger community.


Odors and Odorous Compound Measurement

Michael A. McGinley, P.E., and Samantha Henningsen




3.1   Sampling Exhaust Stacks and Vents

3.2   Sampling Surfaces


4.1   Background of Laboratory Olfactometry Standards

4.2   Odor Panels

4.3   Odor Concentration

4.4   Odor Intensity

4.5   Odor Persistency

4.6   Odor Characterization

4.7   Confidence Interval of Odor Results

4.8   Odor Reduction Efficiency


5.1   Ambient Odor Intensity

5.2   Grid Method

5.3   Ambient Odor Concentration—Field Olfactometers

5.4   Application of Field Olfactometry


6.1   Methods for Reduced Sulfur Compounds, Including Hydrogen Sulfide

6.2   Methods for Volatile Fatty Acids

6.3   Methods for Amine Compounds

6.4   Methods for Volatile Organic Compounds

6.5   Methods for Other Wastewater Odorants, Including Ammonia





Odors remain one of the top air pollution complaints for regulators and government bodies in the United States and internationally. Likewise, nuisance odors also dominate the environmental concerns expressed to water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). Ambient air holds a mixture of chemicals from everyday activities of industrial and commercial enterprises, including wastewater collection and conveyance systems and treatment facilities.

A person's olfactory system allows for the detection of some odorant compounds at extremely low concentrations (i.e., parts per trillion or even parts per quadrillion). When we experience odorous air emissions from facilities such as those for wastewater collection and treatment, at its most primitive level our sense of smell acts as an antenna for an early warning of compounds present outside our normal baseline. Most citizens are moved to complain when these odorants are unpleasant or are above their acceptable level of frequency and duration.

When wastewater collection and treatment odors affect air quality and cause citizen complaints, investigation requires that specific odorant chemicals be measured and all of the odorous air be measured using standardized methods of odor perception. Measurement and quantification of odors and odorant compounds from wastewater collection systems and treatment facilities is typically required for the following purposes:

•  Monitoring for compliance as part of permit requirements or renewal;

•  Determination of baseline status for facility expansion planning;

•  Determination of specific odor sources during complaint investigation;

•  Monitoring operations for management performance evaluation;

•  Comparison of operating practices when evaluating operating alternatives;

•  Monitoring specific events or episodes for defensible, credible evidence;

•  Comparison of odor mitigation measures during testing and trials;

•  Determination of odor control system performance; and

•  Verification of estimated odor effects from dispersion modeling.

Odors and odorant compounds are measurable using quantitative, standardized scientific methods. Point, area, and volume emissions can be collected and the samples sent to a laboratory for testing of chemical concentration (e.g., gas chromatography–mass spectrometry [GC–MS]) or of odor parameters (e.g., odor concentration, intensity, characterization). Odorant concentrations and odor perception can also be measured and quantified directly in the surrounding air, at the property line, and in the community using standardized air sampling/analytical techniques as well as field odor assessment practices, respectively.

This chapter presents the basics of sampling and measuring odorous air. A brief explanation of nasal anatomy and how the olfactory systems work is also presented. Methods for sampling odorous air are explained and illustrated. Odor parameters are defined along with a presentation of the background history of odor testing standards. Field assessment methods of ambient odors are also discussed. Finally, the chapter presents chemical analyses of common odorants from WRRFs and comparisons are made between compounds, odor thresholds, and laboratory analyses associated with wastewater.


Of the five senses, the sense of smell is the most complex and unique in structure and organization. As summarized by McGinley, McGinley, and McGinley (2000), the olfactory system plays a significant role as a defense mechanism by creating a natural aversion to malodorous and irritant compounds. Olfaction is a protective sense, protecting from tainted food and matter, such as rotting vegetables, putrefying meat, and fecal matter. This is accomplished by two main nerves: (a) the olfactory nerve (first cranial nerve) processes the perception of chemical odorants and (b) the trigeminal nerve (fifth cranial nerve) processes the irritation or pungency of chemicals, which may or may not include odorants.

During normal nose breathing, only a small percentage of inhaled air passes up and under the olfactory receptors in the top, back part of the nasal cavity. When a sniffing action is produced, either voluntarily or as an involuntary reflex, the inhaled air passed over the olfactory receptors more than doubles because of turbulent action in front of the nasal turbinates. In both nasal cavities, 10 to 25 million olfactory cells comprise the olfactory epithelium. Cilia on the surface of the epithelium have a receptor contact surface area of approximately 5 cm² (0.78 in.²) because of the presence of many microvilli. Supporting cells surrounding these cilia secrete mucus, which acts as a trap for chemical odorants.

Chemical odorants pass by the olfactory epithelium and are dissolved (transferred) into the mucus at a rate dependent on their water solubility and other mass-transfer factors. The olfactory cells respond to the presence of these chemicals. If an action potential threshold of olfactory electrical signals is met, the pulse propagates along the olfactory nerve, through the ethmoidal bone between the nasal cavity and the brain compartment, where it synapses with the olfactory bulb.

All olfactory signals meet in the olfactory bulb where the information is distributed to two different parts of the brain. One major pathway of information is to the limbic system, which processes emotion and memory response of the body. This area also influences the signals of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, the two main hormone control centers of the human body. The second major information pathway is to the frontal cortex. This is where conscious sensations take place as information is processed with other information and compared to cumulative life experiences so that the individual can recognize the odor and make some decisions about the experience.

Frequently, the terms odor and odorant are used interchangeably. Odor refers to the perception experienced when one or more chemical substances in the air contact the various human sensory systems. Odor is the human response. Odorant refers to any chemical in the air that is capable of being part of the perception of odor by a human. The odorants are the chemical compounds. Odor perception may occur when a person experiences one or many chemical odorants.


Odorous air samples can be collected from point emission sources (i.e., stacks or vents) and from surface air emissions sources (i.e., liquid or solid surfaces). Whole-air samples for laboratory testing are typically collected in 10-L Tedlar® gas sample bags for transport to the sensory laboratory for odor analysis or in 1-L Tedlar gas sample bags for transport to the analytical laboratory for chemical analysis (St. Croix Sensory, Inc., 2003).

Odor and odorant sampling is often part of an odor study, odor control system performance test, or routine performance evaluation of the WRRF. The purpose of the sampling is often to compare odors and odorants from various processes at the facility or to determine if the control system is performing according to specifications.

Sampling protocols typically require the samples to be collected under normal operating conditions. The sampling planners determine when normal operating conditions exist or if sampling should take place during a specific timeframe, such as during worst-case conditions. The person conducting the sampling is responsible for documenting the conditions at the time of the sampling.

Before sampling, the sampler must gather the equipment that might be needed, including ladders, tools for opening sample ports, pitot tubes and related items, thermometers, vacuum case with pump, emission isolation flux chamber for quiescent surface sampling, and Teflon sample lines (St. Croix Sensory, Inc., 2003). Sample collection supplies must also be gathered, which may include Tedlar bags with labels, sorbent tubes, or inert-coated stainless steel canisters.

In addition to collecting samples for odor analysis, the protocol may require that a companion sample (i.e., duplicate) is collected in a Tedlar sample bag or canister for chemical analysis (e.g., reduced sulfur compound gas analysis or volatile organic compound [VOC] analysis). The protocol may also require testing for specific chemical odorants in the air with portable instruments (e.g., hydrogen sulfide analyzer).

3.1   Sampling Exhaust Stacks and Vents

Frequently, samples are collected from various point sources such as exhaust stacks or vents. Measurements should be taken for the velocity, pressure, and temperature of the air streams from the source. The sampler prepares the sample Teflon tubing, sample bag, vacuum case, and pump, as well as a labeled (i.e., field number and date) 10-L Tedlar sample bag. With the bag valve open, the bag is connected to the tubing inside the vacuum case. The vacuum case is then sealed. Acting as a sampling probe, the Teflon sample tubing is held in position inside the exhaust stack or ducting and connected to the bag inside the vacuum case. The pump is then connected to the case to gradually evacuate the air. This vacuum causes the sample bag to fill odorous air from the exhaust stack while only being in contact with the Teflon sample line. Figure 2.1 illustrates the sampling apparatus.

FIGURE 2.1   Vacuum chamber for odor sampling.

The Tedlar sample bag is first filled with the odorous air to about one-third capacity and held for one minute to condition the bag. The bag is then emptied using the pump to pressurize the vacuum case or by removing the bag from the vacuum case and manually squeezing the bag until it is empty.

The whole-air sample is then collected in the sample bag using the vacuum case. The sample bag should be no more than two-thirds full to allow sufficient room for approximately 20% expansion when air shipping is used. When the vacuum case is stopped, the sample bag is closed, the sample line is disconnected, and the sample bag is removed.

If exhaust air is saturated with moisture, or if the exhaust air dewpoint is above ambient temperatures, additional sampling procedures must be incorporated. Figure 2.1 illustrates the use of a water trap in the sampling line before the vacuum case for the purpose of preventing any water droplets from entering the sample bag. Further, the sample may require pre-dilution to prevent the warm, moist exhaust from condensing in the sample bag. This pre-dilution could be performed statically, by prefilling the bag with dry, zero air or high-purity nitrogen and then filling with a known volume of the odorous air. A preferred method would be the use of a dynamic dilution sampling probe (as shown in Figure 2.2) to simultaneously collect and mix the sample from the exhaust source with a diluting gas such as zero air or high-purity nitrogen. Additionally, the exhaust air that contains oxidizing chemicals, such as ozone or chlorine, may change with time. Extra sampling precautions or procedures may be necessary in these cases; thus, sampling specialists may be consulted for specialized equipment.

FIGURE 2.2   Dynamic dilution sampling probe.

The collected sample bag must be protected from sunlight and from potential puncture with a durable shipping case or box. A chain-of-custody record must be completed. The date, time, and description of the sample are recorded on the form, as well as the analysis requested from the laboratory. Each 10-L Tedlar sample bag must be protected by placing the bag inside the shipping box on its end. Sample bags must never be shipped on top of one another because the weight of one bag can damage another bag. Allow sufficient room in the shipping box for each bag to expand approximately 20% when aircraft shipping is involved.

The final step for the sampler, before dispatching the sample shipment, involves completing the shipping documents and calling the shipping company for pickup. Most odor sampling protocols require the odor evaluation to be conducted within 30 hours after sample collection, and analytical hold times range from 24 to 72 hours from a Tedlar bag, seven days in a canister, and 14 days from a sorbent tube. After a long and potentially expensive day of sampling, it is imperative to be sure the collected samples are picked up by the shipping courier before the end of the business day.

3.2   Sampling Surfaces

An odorous air sample can be collected from surfaces, sometimes called area sources. Wind speed and direction, air temperature and relative humidity, and solar radiation all affect the odorous emission rate from the quiescent surface (e.g., influent channel of primary clarifier). Aerated surfaces are also affected by the aeration blower flowrate in a diffused air process or the airflow emission from the surface of a biofilter. Emission rates for aerated area sources are calculated by multiplying the odor concentration (OU/m³) by the blower or exhaust fan flowrate (m³/s).

FIGURE 2.3   Tall passive chimney sampler.

A tall passive chimney or simulated stack is an apparatus used to collect aerated surface emissions samples. Figure 2.3 illustrates the sampling method to isolate an aerated surface. The tall passive chimney sampler minimizes the effects of crossflow winds at the time of sample collection. A vacuum case is used to collect the whole-air sample of exhaust air from the biofilter surface using the same bag-filling procedure described for the point source sample collection.

Samples can also be collected using a flux chamber floating on liquid surfaces. The flux chamber, also called a surface emission isolation chamber, was originally developed in the 1970s to quantify emissions of inorganic gases from soils. In the 1980s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) studied flux chambers for measuring the emissions of VOCs from contaminated soil and water surfaces at hazardous waste sites (Klenbusch, 1986). Figure 2.4 illustrates the method to collect whole-air samples from quiescent liquid or solid surfaces. The flux chamber uses a flotation collar to float the chamber on a liquid surface. A clean, odor-free carrier gas (e.g., dry zero air or high-purity nitrogen) is metered into the flux chamber at a known flowrate (e.g., 5LPM) as the sweep air. After an equilibration period of 3 to 4 residence times, a sample is withdrawn from the flux chamber at a flowrate less than the sweep airflow rate (e.g., 2LPM). Similar to sampling a point source, a vacuum chamber and Tedlar sample bag are used to collect the sample from the flux chamber (Schmidt, Card, & Goodwin, 2008).

The odorous emission rate (OU/s/m²) for an area source is calculated by multiplying the odor concentration (OU/m³) by a sweep air flowrate (m³/s) and dividing by the area (m²) of the flux chamber used to collect the surface emission odor samples.

FIGURE 2.4   Flux chamber surface sampler.


The perception of odor can be quantified using objective, scientific methods. Odor testing has evolved over time with changes in terminology, methods, and instrumentation. The following are four measurable, objective parameters of perceived odor:

•  Odor concentration—measured as a dilution ratio and reported as a detection threshold (DT) and recognition threshold (RT) or more generally as a dilution-to-threshold, (D/T) and commonly assigned the pseudo-dimensions of odor units per cubic meter (OU/m³);

•  Odor intensity—rating the perceived strength of odor using a word or number scale, typically linked to a referencing scale of discreet n-butanol concentrations in parts per million;

•  Odor persistency—reported as the dose–response function, a relationship of odor concentration and odor intensity; and

•  Odor character descriptors—what the odor smells like according to category scales.

These odor parameters are objective because they are measured by trained panels of assessors using validated techniques dealing with facts that are not distorted by personal feelings or prejudices. The following are additional measurable, but subjective parameters of perceived odor:

•  Hedonic tone—pleasantness versus unpleasantness of the odor;

•  Objectionable—causes avoidance or physiological effects in a person; and

•  Annoyance—interference with comfortable enjoyment of life and property.

These odor parameters are subjective because they are reported by individuals relying on their interpretation of word scales and their personal feelings, beliefs, memories, experiences, and prejudices. Guidelines and legal definitions of these subjective odor parameter scales often assist individuals in reporting observed odor; however, the nature of these parameters remains subjective.

4.1   Background of Laboratory Olfactometry Standards

In the early years of odor testing in laboratories, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D1391 syringe dilution technique measured odors in the laboratory from samples collected at the odor source (American Society for Testing and Materials, 1978). In 1979, ASTM D1391 was replaced with ASTM E679, Standard Practice for Determination of Odor and Taste Thresholds by a Forced-Choice Ascending Concentration Series Method of Limits. The current edition of ASTM E679 was published in 2019 as ASTM E679-19 (ASTM International, 2019).

In 1995, a working group was formed within the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to develop a unified olfactometry standard. This working group recognized the need to help industry and regulators develop a consistent basis for monitoring and testing odors, and thus help determine the potential for odor nuisance. This was to be accomplished by developing a method that

•  improved consistency within each laboratory (repeatability);

•  achieved comparable results among laboratories (reproducibility); and

•  connected the results to a traceable reference material, n-butanol.

To achieve these goals, the CEN committee focused on the following issues: sampling procedures; sample containers; olfactometer construction and operation; the olfactometer and assessor interface; the odor testing room; and methods of data processing and assessor selection, training, and performance (van Harreveld, Heeres, & Harssema, 1999).

The CEN olfactometry standard was released to the public at the end of 1999 as proposed CEN standard 13725, Air Quality—Determination of Odour Concentration by Dynamic Olfactometry (European Committee for Standardization, 2003). The final draft of the document was officially approved in 2003 (British Standards Institution, 2003). This standard, EN 13725, has become a de facto international standard. The CEN TG264 met in 2017 and 2018 to review and edit the EN 13725 standard to publish a revised document in 2019 or 2020.

4.2   Odor Panels

Odor evaluation of whole-air odor samples is conducted under controlled laboratory conditions following standard sensory evaluation practices using panels of trained assessors.

An odor laboratory is an odor-free, non-stimulating space. Each odor assessor, when working on odor evaluations, focuses on the task of observing the odor sample when presented. A comfortable and relaxing waiting area without distractions enhances a low-stress environment for assessors and nurtures their commitment and dedication to quality performance.

From a pool of on-call assessors, five to 10 assessors are selected for a scheduled odor panel. Odor panels consist of individuals that are recruited from the community and then selected and trained following Guidelines for the Selection and Training of Sensory Panel Members (American Society for Testing and Materials, 1981) and EN 13725 (European Committee for Standardization, 2003). Assessors are not allowed to smoke, use smokeless tobacco, or have significant allergies. Women who are pregnant or may be pregnant are also not allowed to be assessors because they are likely to have a heightened sensitivity to odors. Assessors must follow general odor panel rules including the following: being free of illness, no eating or drinking 30 minutes before or during a panel, being fragrance free, and so on.

Each odor assessor is tested to determine their individual olfactory sensitivity using standard odorants (e.g., n-butanol and hydrogen sulfide). The assessor receives training that consists of olfactory awareness, sniffing techniques, standardized odor descriptors, and olfactory responses.

4.3   Odor Concentration

The most common measure of odorous air samples is the odor threshold value (OTV), also referred to as the odor concentration. The determination of the odor concentration is made using an instrument called an olfactometer and is expressed as a dilution-to-threshold (D/T) level that is typically expressed as the detection threshold (DT) and recognition threshold (RT).

The laboratory olfactometer simulates the dilution of odor in the ambient air. Figure 2.5 illustrates how the wind dilutes odorous air emissions. A large dilution ratio on the olfactometer (e.g., 20 000, log 20 000 = 4.3) represents a high dilution of the odor sample, which is similar to a person standing at a large distance from the odorous emission. A small dilution ratio (e.g., 20, log 20 = 1.3) represents a small dilution of the odor sample, which is similar to a person standing close to the odor source.

FIGURE 2.5   Dilution of odor in the ambient air.

The detection threshold is an estimate of the number of dilutions needed to make the actual odor emission non-detectable. Recognition threshold is also a dilution ratio and represents the number of dilutions needed to make the odor sample faintly recognizable. The recognition threshold value, in odor units per cubic meter, is always lower than the detection threshold value because it takes more dilution to bring an odor to its detection threshold (no odor present) compared to its recognition threshold (odor is not recognizable). Likewise, a large value for the odor concentration represents a strong odor, whereas a small odor concentration is a weaker odor.

During an odor test, the assessor sniffs a dilute sample of the odor as it is discharged from the olfactometer as one of three sample presentations (one presentation with the dilute odor and two with odor-free air). Figure 2.6 shows one assessor (left) sniffing from the olfactometer nasal mask with the test administrator (right) operating the olfactometer. The assessor sniffs the triad of the presentations and must select the one of the three that is different from the other two, even if the selection is a guess. This statistical approach is called triangular forced-choice. The assessor declares to the test administrator if the selection is a guess, detection (i.e., the selection is different from the other two), or recognition (i.e., the selection smells like something).

FIGURE 2.6   Assessor (left) at olfactometer while test administrator (right) operates olfactometer and monitors the test (permission granted by St. Croix Sensory).

The assessor is then presented with the next set of three presentation choices, one of which contains the diluted odor sample. However, this next set of three samples presents the odor at a higher concentration, lower amount of dilution (e.g., two times higher, one-half dilution ratio). The assessor continues to evaluate additional levels of higher concentration (i.e., lower dilution) presentations following the triangular forced-choice procedure and required designation of guess, detection, or recognition. This statistical approach of increasing levels of sample presentation is called ascending concentration series. The ascending concentration series approach avoids sensitizing the assessors' olfactory sense to the sample odor.

Therefore, the odor concentration is a number derived from the laboratory dilution of sample odors. The dilution ratio (total presentation volume divided by the odor sample volume) of each sample presentation level is used to calculate the concentration of the evaluated sample. For example, consider an assessor that did not detect the odor presentation on the olfactometer level 5, which is a dilution ratio of 4000, but did detect the odor at the next odor concentration at level 6, which is a dilution ratio of 2000. The assessor's individual threshold estimate of the detection threshold is the geometric mean between these two dilution ratios, which is a result of 2820. This is called the best-estimate threshold.

The geometric mean is used to estimate the individual threshold to balance the variance between dilution levels (Stevens, 1962). The ascending concentration series is a geometric progression, where each successive level is twice the previous odor level; therefore, the scale does not have equal spread between dilution levels. There is equal variance along the logarithmic scale (Dravnieks, Schmidtsdorf, & Mellgaard, 1986).

The individual estimate thresholds of the assessor responses are averaged on the log scale to determine the detection threshold for which 50% of the individuals observe the presence of the odor. This detection threshold value that is obtained from odor testing is actually derived from dilution ratios and is, therefore, dimensionless. However, the pseudo-dimensions of odor units (OU) or odor units per cubic meter (OU/m³) are commonly applied.

Odor concentration is an estimate of the number of dilutions needed to make the actual odor emission non-detectable. The dilution of the actual odor emission is the physical process that occurs in the atmosphere downwind of the odor source. The receptor (citizen) sniffs the diluted odor. If they detect the odor, then the amount of odor in the atmosphere is higher than the receptor's detection threshold level.

The pseudo-dimension odor units per cubic meter is commonly used in odor dispersion modeling, taking the place of grams per cubic meter (g/m³). The odor concentration can be multiplied by the airflow rate (m³/s), resulting in odor units per second, analogous to grams per second. Odor concentrations from multiple odor sources cannot be added or averaged directly. Odor modeling must be conducted with caution by a professional with modeling experience. The modeling result showing an odor concentration of 1 represents the odor detection threshold level that was determined by the odor panel. A value less than 1 is no odor or subthreshold odor. A value greater than 1 represents odor at suprathreshold.

4.4   Odor Intensity

Odor intensity is the perceived strength of the odor above the recognition threshold (suprathreshold). Standard Practice for Referencing Suprathreshold Odor Intensity (ASTM E544-18) presents two methods for referencing the intensity of odors: the dynamic scale method (procedure A) and the static scale method (procedure B) (ASTM International, 2018). The dynamic scale method uses an olfactometer with continuous flows of a standard odorant (e.g., n-butanol) for presentation to the assessors. The assessor compares the observed intensity of an odor sample to a specific concentration level of the standard odorant. The static scale method uses a set of bottles with fixed dilutions of the standard odorant in water solution. Field investigators and odor laboratories commonly use the static scale method (Turk, Switala, & Thomas, 1980).

The odor intensity result is expressed as either the average scale level—for example, level 3 on the 10-point scale—or as the n-butanol concentration in parts per million of the matching level. A larger value of n-butanol concentration means a stronger odor. These n-butanol concentrations are referenced for purposes of documentation and communication in a reproducible format.

An important aspect of the n-butanol intensity reference scale is the variety of available scales. Figure 2.7 presents three common odor intensity referencing scales (OIRS). The specific olfactometer device determines the dilution levels of the dynamic scale method used by laboratories. The dilution levels of the static scale method used by laboratories and field inspectors are determined from interpretation of ASTM procedure B, which accepts numerous scale choices. The laboratory or field investigator selects the starting point of the scale and the geometric progression of the concentration series.

Common scales of n-butanol concentration in air and water have starting points between 10 and 25 ppmv. Many scales use a geometric progression of 2 (each level twice the concentration of the previous); however, some scales use geometric progressions of 1.5 to 3. All laboratories and investigators presenting the odor intensity data should reference an n-butanol concentration in air or water to allow comparison of results from different data sources.

4.5   Odor Persistency

Odor is a psychophysical phenomenon. Psychophysics involves the response of an organism to changes in the environment perceived by the five senses (Stevens, 1960). Some examples of psychophysical phenomenon include how the human body perceives sound loudness, light brightness, or odor intensity.

FIGURE 2.7   Example odor intensity referencing scales (OIRS) shown using reference odorant n-butanol (permission granted by St. Croix Sensory).

These psychophysical phenomena lead to sensory responses, which follow a power law. Apparent odor intensity grows as a power function of the stimulus odorant. Stevens showed that this power law (Steven's Law) follows the equation

where I is intensity, C is the mass concentration of the odorant, and k and n are constants that are different for every specific odorant or mixture of odorants (Stevens, 1962).

As shown in Figure 2.8, this equation is a straight line when plotted on a log–log scale. The x-axis is the mass concentration of the single odorant. The upward slope of the graph illustrates that the perceived intensity of the odorant increases as the mass concentration increases.

Odor persistency is a term used to describe the rate at which an odor's perceived intensity decreases as the odor is diluted (in the atmosphere downwind). Figure 2.9 illustrates how odor intensity decreases as the odor is diluted in this dose-response function. This is determined from odor intensity measurements at various dilutions and at full strength (i.e., no dilution). The odor concentration (dose), expressed as the log of the presented dilution ratio, and the odor intensity (response) produce the linear relationship

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