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Odors are the single most important environmental issue in siting wastewater treatment and biosolids management facilities, and in implementing biosolids management practices. Invariably the production of odors often implicates health issues. These health issues relate to chemical or biological agents such as pathogens or bioaerosols. Much of the difficulty in managing odor issues lies in the subjective nature of odors generally. Odors often trigger complaints related to health, especially if they are persistent.

Potential legal defenses to private nuisance claims include:

“Coming to the nuisance” and Right-to-Farm laws

Preemption by local zoning

Preemption by state/federal environmental regulations/permitting

Sovereign immunity

Current odor regulations are either based on “nuisance” or “quality of life” narrative standards, or numerical-based standards. Odor regulations or ordinances are adopted and enforced primarily by state, county or municipal jurisdictions. Approximately 42 of the 50 states have adopted legal controls based on nuisance laws. Six states have numerical based laws that use dilution to threshold (D/T).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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