The aroma from landfill sites can be very unpleasant and is known to lead to complaints from local residents. Recent research suggests that certain weather types lead to a greater number of complaints about the odour from landfill sites. The research also suggests that these odour events can be predicted using existing weather forecasting models.
Odours from landfill sites were found to be most unpleasant to local residents on days when the weather acts to trap the smell close to the site. High-pressure systems associated with low wind speeds, in both summer and winter, lead to an increase in the number of complaints.
Scientists from the University of Hertfordshire have identified that certain recurring weather conditions lead to a large proportion of the recorded complaints. The study combined state-of-the-art weather forecasting models, measurements of odourous chemicals at the site, and the complaints record from a landfill site in France.
To achieve accurate prediction of odour events close to the site the local small scale weather conditions must be taken into account. The local weather station data proved useful to identify where and when complaints were likely to happen.
The results provide information that can be used to reduce the impact of odours from the landfill site on the local population. Identification of meteorological conditions when odour nuisance is expected allows a management strategy to reduce odour nuisances to be developed. The worst odours are caused by work within the site opening up new 'seams' of waste. Opening new seams only when the weather is suitable would be a simple and effective method of reducing the odour impact of the site.
This study is a preliminary investigation into the use of weather forecasting models to predict odour events from landfill sites. The study looked at one specific chemical to trace the odour, in reality odour is produced by a combination of many chemicals. The tracer chemical used in this study (toluene) is only one contributor to the overall odour but its high levels and ease of detection make it a convenient marker of the odour.
The work was completed in collaboration with two French companies, the landfill operators SATROD (a subsidiary of SITA France) and TERA technologies that collected the chemical data. The results of this study may not reflect the views of SATROD, and SITA France and no official endorsement should be inferred.
C. Chemel, C. Riesenmey, M. Batton-Hubert, H. Vaillant
Odour-impact assessment around a landfill site from weather-type classification, complaint inventory and numerical simulation. Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 93, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 85-94, ISSN 0301-4797, 10.1016/j.jenvman.2011.08.016.
NCAS Communications Manager
Dr Felicity Perry