Undesirable smells or odors in the indoor and outdoor environment can be a major distraction and interfere with the enjoyment and use of an indoor and outdoor space. Some odors can be a sign of a contaminant source and may impact the health and well-being of building occupants and surrounding communities. RHP professionals conduct site investigations for suspicious and unpleasant odors within commercial buildings, public buildings, and industrial facilities as well as at residential sites in surrounding communities. We work with clients to provide mitigation recommendations so businesses may resume normal work activities free of concerns and distractions.

Nuisance and Hazardous Building Odors 

Odor perception is subjective, and employers, employees, and nearby communities are often concerned whether an odor is simply a nuisance or may produce adverse health effects. By addressing odor concerns, particularly indoor air quality issues, employers can improve occupant psychological and/or physiological health, prevent employee complaints, increase comfort level, and improve safety. In addition to indoor odor concerns amongst employees, evaluating and understand outdoor odor concerns can improve public relations, prevent complaints, and improve the health and well-being of the surrounding community. 

RHP’s experience and understanding of the indoor and outdoor environment and contaminants that are residuals to or by-products of commercial and manufacturing processes enable us to evaluate odors and address any indoor air quality or environmental air quality concerns.

Common Odor Sources We Assess

Odors are comprised of organic or inorganic compounds such a volatile organic compound (VOCs), ozone, solvents, exhaust, sewage, and smoke and they are emitted from a variety of indoor sources including office furniture/supplies, bioaerosols, furnishings, trash, restrooms, water intrusion and/or damp environments, fire and smoke damage, laboratories, or cleaning activities. Sources of outdoor odors include vehicle exhaust, factory emissions, unsanitary debris, fires, construction activities or accidental spills. (CDC Indoor Environmental Quality: Chemicals and Odors).

RHP’s experience and understanding of common emission sources and compounds which may contribute to pleasant or unpleasant odors allow us to conduct a focused and detailed odor analysis and odor investigation.

Our Odor Assessment Methods

Odor assessments involve a systematic approach beginning with understanding the nature of the odor and source (known or unknown) followed by an interview process of those who have experienced and/or are affected. When conducting an odor assessment, it is important to consider human individual variability in odor detection, recognition, and perception.

In addition to a visual assessment, state-of-the-art monitoring and testing equipment including real-time instrumentation is often used to measure concentrations of compounds such as formaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, and VOCs as well as environmental and air velocity parameters including wind speed and direction, carbon dioxide (CO2,) temperature and relative humidity. Air migration pathways and variable pressure conditions are often assessed to explain intermittent odors and air samples may also be collected via evacuated summa cannisters to evaluate concentrations of toxic organic compounds and compared to established odor thresholds. 

With this information, RHP’s Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH) and Safety Professionals can equate the results to human experiences and toxicity information.

Odor Analysis and Solutions

Following the odor assessment and upon discovery of the indoor or outdoor unpleasant odor source(s), the next phase will include evaluation and implementation of solutions to improve occupant psychological and/or physiological health, prevent complaints, increase comfort level, improve safety, improve public relations, and improve the health and well-being of the surrounding community.

Our odor assessments include comparison of the results with the applicable regulatory or best practice guidance and detailed recommendations on a range of mitigation options, if necessary, to address the odor(s) and any possible health concerns.

Building odor mitigation options could include:

Who We Help

RHP has conducted numerous building odor investigations within commercial, manufacturing, industrial, governmental, and laboratory buildings as well as outdoor investigations at residential sites adjacent to outdoor waste and chemical storage cleaning facilities.

Both indoor and outdoor investigations have included evaluation of vehicle exhaust from car and truck emissions. Our experience across a variety of industries help our experts narrow down possible odor sources and provide a more detailed odor analysis and focused solutions.

Contact RHP to Request Odor Testing Services Today

RHPs Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH), public health scientists and certified safety professionals have extensive knowledge and expertise to assist clients in navigating seemingly straight forward or complex odor investigations including conducting employer, employee, or community resident interviews, performing an onsite visual assessment, collecting indoor and/or outdoor real-time or active air samples, and providing detailed solutions such as a thorough HVAC assessment, installation of odor removal equipment, or removal or replacement of the odor emitting source. Contact RHP for your odor testing and control service needs.

For further references and RHP White Papers on the topic, see: rhprisk.com/white-papers