Some of the most unpleasant odors come from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a large group of light carbon-based molecules that react with the atmosphere. These include benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, xylene, and 1,3-butadiene, which are found in many consumer and industrial products. Because of their volatility, these molecules off-gas (or out-gas) into the environment, creating unpleasant smells as well as chemical exposure concerns. Sulfuric compounds (such as hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide) are also well-known olfactory offenders. “Natural” organic materials—such as foods, plant-based materials, animal products and manure—are the culprit for many odor problems, especially as organic materials rot and decompose.
If you have an odor control problem, the evidence is probably obvious. Odors can cause problems both inside and outside the facility. Within the facility, noxious odors create an unpleasant work environment, which can make recruiting and retention difficult. If the odors are strong enough, or the chemicals causing the odors are associated with health concerns, a stinky workplace may also be an OSHA violation. If odors are allowed to escape into the environment, companies may find themselves in violation of EPA emission regulations or local ordinances. Uncontrolled odors are also a common complaint in lawsuits filed by neighbors against polluting industries. Controlling odors is essential for both a healthy, pleasant work environment and good relationships with neighbors