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  • Allison Stalker

Strategies for Odor Abatement at Commercial and Industrial Facilities

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important aspect of the safety of commercial and industrial facilities. Poor odors in a facility can be a signal to poor IAQ and can lead to the shutdown of workplaces for cleaning and renovations. To avoid this, a proper odor abatement plan should be implemented. These plans will differ for commercial and industrial facilities.

Commercial facilities are the simpler of the two to assess because the causes of odor are usually limited. However, the problems can be more complex, involving any combination of odors from the site, the climate, building construction techniques, outdoor air quality, contaminant sources, building occupants, and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The first step in an odor abatement plan is to develop an IAQ profile that describes the features of the building’s structure, function, and occupancy. Doing so will help to answer the four key IAQ profile questions:

  1. How was the building originally intended to function?

  2. Is the building functioning as designed?

  3. What changes in layout and use have occurred since the original design and construction?

  4. What changes may be needed to prevent future IAQ problems from developing?

Once a full IAQ profile is created, identifying the source of the odor becomes easier.

Industrial facilities have a much larger range of potential causes including all the ones listed for commercial settings plus vapors released from processes, accidental chemical spills, chemical reactions, raw material storage, equipment maintenance, and process waste materials. There are many steps that can be taken to prevent odor problems in the first place.

  1. Incorporate well-designed and enclosed local exhaust ventilation to properly capture contaminates.

  2. Position exhaust stacks and outdoor air intakes in a way to minimize the chances of contaminated exhaust air being drawn into the air intakes of the office HVAC system.

  3. Be sure to consider how any modifications to the office or manufacturing facilities will affect the ventilation system and air balances.

  4. Minimize worker exposure to chemicals to below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulated levels.

If these strategies are implemented and odor problems still occur, a detailed odor investigation is necessary. The tasks required for a successful odor investigation can be found in the article written by Tom Petersen appearing in August 2011 edition of Air Pollution Control Magazine. This article also presents common strategies for odor abatement once the odor investigation has been conducted and the source identified.

To view the article, click here.

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