Odour Assessment and Management

IWES, University of Queensland, WaterAid Odour management

Target Audience

Anyone who wants an excellent grounding in the principles of odour measurement, assessment and control. Including environmental managers, air quality managers, regulatory agency officers, local government environmental officers, consultants and researchers


This new course provides a practical grounding in the principles of odour measurement (source and ambient), assessment and control. Odour is a challenging issue in many communities, involving both technical and social complexities. The course includes intensive workshop sessions and uses extensive reference to case studies to illustrate the principles.

Now running over 3 days, this course will take you from the basic principles through to complex real-world situations where those principles can be seen at work.

Learning Objectives

Day 1 The Principles

The human odour response: What is odour? How do we respond to it?
The sensory system and its link to perception and memory
Variations in odour response: their causes and effects
Community odour surveys: how they are done and what they tell us, using worldwide examples
Annoyance, nuisance and complaints: problems and issues
Workshop 1: odour perception testing
Odour sources and generation mechanisms: How is odour produced and released to the atmosphere, and what controls these processes?
Major odour-generating activities and source types
Typical behaviours of odour sources
Key factors in odour generation, with reference to wastewater, intensive livestock and other industries
Area source emissions: a complex but widespread problem
Workshop 2: process analysis of time-varying odour emissions, from an area source and an industrial process
Odour measurement : What is an odour unit? What is an olfactometer?
Dynamic olfactormetry (Australian Standard 4323.3) – the gold standard for odour measurement
Field methods: short-term and long-term surveys
Electronic nose: how they work and where they are most effective
Odour laboratory performance issues
Quality assurance and reporting requirements for odour measurement
Sampling methods and common problems e.g. single versus multiple samples; spatial and temporal source variations; odour sample decay over time; regulations and safety vs. getting the right sample
How to ask the right questions about an odour measurement report.
Workshop 3: using a dynamic olfactometer and determining odour concentration. Using field sniffing technique. Participant will be part of the odour measurement process

Day 2 Modelling and Assessment

Impact assessment principles: Learn about the elements and issues of odour impact assessment:
Technical framework for odour assessment: similarities and differences between Australian states and international frameworks
Defining a future activity: what is to be modelled and/or assessed?
Baseline and context
Using and interpreting model predictions
Assessment criteria and their nature: what do odour criteria mean?
Stakeholder perspectives
Emissions estimation and dispersion modelling: Learn about how to estimate odour emissions and model their impacts:
How much data is needed to understand emissions behaviour ?
Surrogate odour emissions data
Emissions variations in time and space
Best estimates of emission rates: from fixed values to time-varying models
Principles of plume dispersion modelling
Features of different models: AUSPLUME, AERMOD, TAPM, CALPUFF
Verification of odour models using field and community surveys
Workshop 4 – Modelling Exercise: hands-on workshop session to gain basic skills in odour modelling and evaluation of model results using real-world examples.

Day 3 Odour Regulation, Control and Management

Regulatory approaches to odour management : Gain an overview of how different jurisdictions regulate odour:
Legislative framework: some practical problems
Implementation of policies and associated practical problems
Conditions of approval and odour management plans
Monitoring, compliance and prosecution
Planning for cumulative impacts
Control technologies and design principles
: Examine the range of methods commonly used to limit odour impacts:
The importance of design and management
Engineering solutions to reduce emissions, including biofiltration, scrubbing, incineration
Improving dispersion to reduce impacts
Examples from various industries
Practical management principles
Maintenance and housekeeping
Examples of management programs
How systems can fail
Real-time and predictive management systems: trends from around the world.
Workshop 5: Prosecution for odour offence – With reference to real-world examples, explore the role of objective and subjective information that goes into the formation of a body of evidence to prosecute a facility, for causing an alleged odour nuisance. How much weight can be given to various lines of evidence? Develop your views and weigh them up against the final decision that were made in these cases.