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Assessment and Characterization of Odor Nuisance Emissions During the Composting of Wastewater Sludges

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Compost plants produce odorous compounds that can cause an “odor nuisance” to their surrounding neighbors. Present methods to evaluate odors exist, but they are not relevant for determining olfactory nuisance. The objectives of this study were to characterize by sensory means the odor nuisance (character and intensity of the odors) from composting plant's that treat raw sludge from wastewater plants. The odor types and their individual intensities of air samples from the raw sludge material, the composting process and any off-gases and water condensate from the process were determined. The odor nuisance categories have been defined on a “Compost Odor Wheel” to help determine odor nuisance. The “Odor Profiling Method” and the composting odor wheel are suggested as a method to define odor nuisance from a compost plant site. Eleven odor categories summarize the data for nuisance evaluation from a total of 45 observed “primary and secondary odor notes”. The odor categories are: 1. Fishy/Ammonia, 2. Fragrant/Fruity, 3. Terpene/Pine/Lemon, 4. Solventy/ Hydrocarbon 5. Grassy/Woody/Smoky 6. Earthy/Musty/Moldy, 7. Rancid, 8. Putrid/Dead Animal, 9. Sweet, 10. Sulfur/Cabbage/Garlic and 11. Fecal/Sewery)

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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