Is There A Standard On “Stink”?

September 17, 2018 No Comments

Just because something stinks, does not mean it is it toxic.  Sewage treatment plants stink, but those I’ve consulted with did not have toxic concentrations of any air borne contaminants.  Clearly not all unpleasant odors are health hazards.

A few years ago a company introduced a new chemical on the production floor.  This chemical smelled bad and in short order many of the production workers complained that the new chemical was making them sick.   I was brought in to evaluate the situation.  After performing air testing, I determined that this new and unpleasant odor in the plant did not produce a toxic atmosphere.

Some smells can be so bad, that even though they are not “toxic” or “poisonous”, they none-the-less are extremely annoying and distracting.  Is there a standard on stink?

In the USA, OSHA does not either have a standard on stink nor do they recommend any sampling methods.   Fortunately, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has an odor policy.  While not a mandatory standard, it does provide a comprehensive review of the odor control process .  This MPCA policy provides an excellent overview of the subject and offers free, downloadable technical reports and links for even more information.

For even more information visit the Monell Chemical Senses Centers’ website here.

For even more information on chemical safety and toxicology, check out our toxicology webpage!

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