Odour Collect provides a tool to empower citizens, who are suffering from odour nuisance at their homes or who identify an odour problem at their regular life, to report the incidence to the world, check the frequency of the episode (either reported repeatedly by themselves or by other citizens in the same area), check the level of nuisance alert, etc., in order to ask for action to the relevant stakeholders, with the aim of eventually eliminating or significantly reducing the nuisance, thus improving their quality of life. The application provides a standardized method to evaluate odour episodes through crowd-sourced citizens’ observations. Data available could eventually be checked by odour and meteorology experts in order to find the odour source to be attacked, so as to eliminate the problem.
Odours cannot be measured chemically as regular pollutants, as odour perception is the result of the combination of volatile substances as a whole and it is something far more complex than the sum of the concentration of substances whose odour perception threshold is overcome. In fact, the best odour sensor is the human nose (we have less than ten genes for the sense of taste and more than 1,000 for the sense of smell, in order to analyse the complex mixture of volatile molecules that produce the odour perception).
Measurement methods have been developed and standardised under the EN 13725:2003 standard, which defines how to sample and analyse odours by dynamic olfactometry, based on “standard human noses” as measurement sensors to obtain an objective value of odour concentration, in odour units per m3.
However, there is no unified legislation throughout Europe or the world to deal with odour contamination, which means that there are not nuisance immision values defined to classify odour complaints and that Local Authorities cannot oblige industrial activities causing the problem to implement corrective actions to eliminate the nuisance, as they do with chemical and other pollutants.
Lacking of a unified regulation throughout Europe which controls odour contamination, and being odour nuisance the second source of complaints listed by the Environmental Agency ADEME in France, citizens are the victims of this lack of regulation. Since odour studies are expensive and industries cannot be obliged to contract them by Local or Regional Authorities, and even some of them deny the access to their facilities to measure emission at the source, a second methodology has been developed to calculate the immision values in the affected areas and evaluate nuisance. It is standardised by the VDI 3940:2008 (future CEN 16841). It sets a series of panellists, or standard human noses, that carry on measurements in a grid in the impact area during a period of time so as to obtain statistically representative measurements, which can be used to estimate the frequency of odour nuisance and built the odour frequency map.
This project is a tool where citizens throughout the world could easily and instantaneously report their odour complaints, visualise the odour frequency maps based on their reports and on other citizens’ reports on their impact area, check if the odour episodes overcome an established odour nuisance threshold which sets an alarm, have a powerful and public analysis to request for action to the relevant stakeholders, share their experiences with other affected communities to mutually learn, made their complaints checked by an odour and meteorology expert, etc. Application results would aim to further develop a standard method for odour citizens’ observatories, compile a library of successful cases (i.e. cases where action has been taken after an odour complaint has been reported in an area, eliminating or reducing the problem), gather a series of educational packages on odour measurement and impact, and help improving the national and European legislative framework.