Let’s talk about Environmental Odours

This month, Dr Ruth Fisher who is a researcher in our Odour Laboratory and a Lecturer within the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been talking about bad smells and how to deal with them from industrial to residential settings.

In simple terms, a smell is made up of chemical compounds that we breathe in and bind to receptors in the nose, these then produce a response in our brain.  All day we are bombarded with smells varying from pleasant to horrid encounters.  One very unique feature of a smell is that it varies from person to person.  We all perceive a smell slightly differently ranging anywhere from highly sensitive to odours, through to lacking particular receptors that result in partial or full loss of smell.

Ruth discusses a range of practical approaches to living with odours and how to minimise their impact.  We first need to understand the smell by knowing where they are being formed and transmitted, what their compounds are and how we detect and recept them.  The best way to get rid of a bad smell is to stop or limit the formation in the first place.  If that is not possible, then we need to look at possible control options during the different odour phases. 

One example that we are all too familiar with and can end up in heated family discussion is the washroom. The simple act of closing the toilet seat before flushing can usually be the first line of defence to the ‘stop and limit’ method of odour control.  I think most of us would agree that this strategy is much better than experimenting with strange unpleasant masking techniques!

For more on odour research please follow these links:





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