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Organization: South Coast Air Quality Management District
Date: May 1, 2009
AQMD Staff to Enhance Odor Identification Capabilities
    The South Coast Air Quality Management District has approved a contract with a UCLA team of olfactory experts for a pilot program expected to enhance the agency's ability to better identify odor sources and potential mitigating factors in resolving odor complaints.
    The agency's current odor complaint identification and investigation practices are effective but, in some cases, odors are elusive. The goal is to enhance the agency's current program.
    "Foul odors can severely impact a person's quality of life or even their health," said William A. Burke, Ed.D., AQMD's Governing Board Chairman. "We are trying to enhance the tools available to our inspectors to help identify and resolve odor problems reported by residents."
    Mel Suffet, a professor of Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) at the UCLA School of Public Health, will lead the effort. Suffet, an expert on odor science, has developed an odor identification device that defines air pollution problems in urban areas.
    The AQMD receives thousands of complaints about odor from the public each year. Odors are the single largest source of complaints reported by residents of the South Coast Air Basin and comprise almost half of the total air quality complaints received annually. Of these, the vast majority (approximately 85 %) are linked to an identifiable source.
    Facilities frequently reported as suspected sources of odors include waste transfer and recycling stations, wastewater treatment plants, landfills, composting operations, petroleum operations, food and byproduct processes, factories, and agricultural activities, such as livestock operations.
    As part of the program, Suffet will review the agency's complaint database, which includes the number and type of complaints reported, the types of facilities suspected or confirmed as sources of the odor and other relevant information. Based on current AQMD practices and procedures, he will provide recommendations to enhance staff's practices in odor chemistry, odor parameters and odor identification techniques.
    If the one-year pilot proves successful, it could be expanded to include assisting community members to identify and describe types of odors. With this knowledge, residents who have odor complaints would be able to give a better report of an odor incident, therefore allowing AQMD to more effectively determine the source.
    AQMD can issue notices of violations to facilities if it can document that a facility's odors are causing a nuisance for a considerable number of people living or working nearby.
    In other action today, the AQMD Board:
    • Awarded $1.2 million to Johnson Matthey Inc. to cosponsor the development and demonstration of selective catalytic regenerating technology on heavy-duty diesel trucks to reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions. The technology will be demonstrated on approximately 43 trucks, model years 1999 through 2002, from at least four fleets in the Southland. AQMD received a $900,000 grant award from U.S. EPA's Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Program to help fund this project;
    • Appointed M. Michael Glovsky, M.D., to fill the medical member position on the AQMD Hearing Board. Dr. Glovsky will replace Joseph D. Auerbach, M.D., who resigned in December 2008 after serving more than 16 years on the hearing board; and
    • Amended Rule 1171 — Solvent Cleaning Operations and Rule 1122 — Solvent Degreasers to extend the compliance date one year to 2010 for certain solvents used in the clean-up of screen printing equipment, as well as provide an exemption for certain specialized, low-usage solvents. Today's action will provide additional time for testing of new, lower-polluting formulations that can perform well and satisfy cleaning requirements.

    AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
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