Industrial odour control, a solution for reducing odour pollution

October 28, 2022
Category: Articles

Industrial odour control is a best practice. After all, odour pollution, depending on its frequency and intensity, can trigger various health-related disorders such as insomnia, headaches or dizziness. This type of pollution is, in fact, a common cause of complaint among people living close to industrial areas.

Basically, because the smell is one of the most sensitive senses and helps us to detect toxic or annoying substances that are often characterised by an unpleasant odour.

But how can you reconcile the well-being of your neighbours with the maintenance of industrial activities that release bad odours?

Read on because we have a solution so that this invisible pollution is no longer a source of discord.


How is industrial odour measured?

Pollution from industrial odour sources is essentially caused by the presence of volatile chemicals that are transported and diluted in the air.

Among the gases that stand out for their bad odour are, as described in our article on odour pollution, hydrogen sulphide (H2S), ammonia (NH3), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).

However, their mere presence does not imply that an odour is considered pleasant or unpleasant, a qualification that is subjective.

Other more or less measurable factors are also relevant to justify the implementation of an industrial odour control system. Some of these variables, collected in publications such as Review of odour character and thresholds, are:

  • Whether it is a simple or compound odour;
  • The amount of odour, defined as the intensity of a single or compound odour to be perceived;
  • The minimum odour concentration required to be detected;
  • The threshold of perception of a compound that can be detected by olfaction;
  • The exposure threshold, which relates the concentration and time of exposure to the occurrence of annoyance;
  • Short-term exposure limit value (SELV), set at 15 minutes;
  • Average Exposure Limit Value (AELV) for a duration of 8 hours; and
  • European Odour Unit, which is defined as the number of odorous substances that, when evaporated in 1 m3 of a neutral gas under normal conditions, causes a physiological response. With regard to the latter concept, Kunak is currently working to be able to offer odour units in the near future.


Odour pollution and concentration

Degree of concentration of odour pollution. Source: Bermúdez, Ramos and Rojas, 2018 (translated)


Which activities are potential sources of pollution and may require an industrial odour control system?

Now that we have seen briefly what concepts should be considered to monitor and characterise industrial malodour, let’s see in which activities the release of these unpleasant gases and particles is most common.

The industries most likely to generate bad odour are:

  • Agri-food industry (slaughterhouses, sugar companies, beer production, etc.).
  • Chemical industry (refineries, ammonia and fertiliser production plants, etc.)
  • Paper industry
  • Textile and footwear
  • Livestock farms
  • Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs)

As an example of the odour problems caused by different industrial activities, we can mention the case of Cincinnati (US), where there are many complaints about the bad odour pollution emitted by chemical companies and neighbours are demanding solutions for industrial odour control.


How to make bad odour pollution visible?

The solution we offer you is very simple: rely on our environmental monitoring system Kunak AIR, both Pro and Lite versions, for industrial odour monitoring.

Our sensor-based stations can be equipped with plug & play cartridges capable of detecting odours:

Odour generating substanceTechnical sheet
Hydrogen sulphide (H2S)
Resolution* type A: 1 ppb
Resolution type B: 0,01 ppm
Plug & play H2S sensor for industrial odour control and air quality monitoring
Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
Resolution: 1 ppb
Plug & play SO2 sensor for industrial odour control and air quality monitoring
Ammonia (NH3)
Resolution: 0,01 ppm
Plug & play NH3 sensor for industrial odour control and air quality monitoring
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Resolution type A: 1 ppb
Resolution type B: 0,01 ppm
Plug & play VOC sensor for industrial odour control and air quality monitoring

*The resolution indicated refers to the smallest unit of measurement that the sensor can indicate


As you can see, the H2S and VOC cartridges have two different versions that rely on our algorithm and provide accurate measurements for low concentrations (low range type A) and higher concentrations (high range type B).

In addition, both Kunak AIR Pro and Kunak AIR Lite can be complemented with an anemometer to measure wind speed and direction, a key variable when it comes to reducing public nuisance and detecting the source of air pollution.

What is the main advantage of the Kunak solution? Providing the company with a continuous, real-time industrial odour control capable of detecting:

  • occasional episodes of odour pollution associated with specific operations, and
  • atmospheric variables that can exacerbate odour nuisance.


Why is industrial odour control necessary?

Firstly, it should be made clear that beyond the monitoring and control operations that may be imposed by particular environmental licences or current regulations related to air quality or pollution prevention and control, countries such as Spain lack specific laws that deal with the problem of odour emissions.

However, the lack of legislation is no excuse for not adopting measures to minimise environmental problems. After all, the fact that a company is a source of constant conflict is not the best letter of introduction.

In this sense, there are guides that can serve as a reference for the adoption of measures aimed at reducing the problems of industrial odour, as well as the experiences of countries and regions that are working on its standardisation.

Industrial bad odour is, in short, an issue that can lead to problems of coexistence between companies and people. Its regulation continues to be one of the great forgotten issues in many legislations, but it seems that the administration is gradually beginning to move to solve this atypical situation. And yes, odour monitoring in wastewater treatment or the paper industry is one of those measures that help to pave the way.


A principal component of regulation is monitoring, since it’s only through continual measurement that we are able to see the volume of emissions prior to the introduction of restrictions and use past readings as a yardstick for future performance.” (Envirotech Online, 19/01/2022)