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Wastewater treatment plants, landfills, feedlots, compost facilities, rendering plants, and other sources of noxious odors and toxic air pollutants are under increasing pressure to control emissions from neighboring communities. As more and more open space is converted into residential developments and the buffer zones around facilities shrink, there is an increased likelihood that the facility will become the focus of community complaints. While these facilities have historically come under scrutiny from regulatory agencies concerned about maintaining air quality standards, health and quality of life issues often take precedence over the regulatory standards in the eyes of the public.

Once a facility identified as a source of odors, there will generally be considerable pressure on the facility to reduce or eliminate odorous emissions. For facilities like wastewater treatment plants that can have numerous sources of odors, identifying which processes are causing the offsite odors is not straightforward, and designing a costeffective control plan that really works can be very difficult. Even determining the appropriate level of control for simple sources of odors and toxic air pollutants, without over designing, can be problematic.

In regulatory air analyses, dispersion modeling is the only way to predict the impact of odors and toxic air pollutants from a facility on the surrounding community before a facility is built or a modification is made. The same models can be used to assess the impacts from sources of odors. Since these models were designed to identify the contribution from individual sources, they are the easiest and most cost-effective approach to determine which sources need to be controlled and to what degree they need to be controlled.

As regulatory modeling continues to move towards the direction of a single powerful and multipurpose model, it is logical to model odors with the same model, if possible. This approach to overall air quality assessment has a number of advantages, such as easy acceptance of the methodology (since the models have been reviewed and validated for regulatory use), expedited review by the regulatory agencies (since they already understand the models), and consistent results, especially when a facility emits both odors and air toxics.

This paper discusses an evaluation of three dispersion models that have been used or are proposed for use in routine air permitting and regulatory analyses: the Industrial Source Complex – Short Term (ISCST3) model, the AERMOD modeling system (American Meteorological Society / Environmental Protection Agency Regulatory Air Modeling system), and the CALPUFF modeling system (based on the California Puff model). It is well known that these models can result in significantly different predicted impacts due to their differing formulas and relative levels of refinement. How these relative differences affect the impacts of odors from a large municipal wastewater treatment and how that in turn affects the management of odors and air toxics is the focus of this paper.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-01-01

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