Online Event: Revisiting Odour Pollution in Europe
Thursday 28 October 2021, 12:00 – 14:00 CEST
Hosted by MEP Maria Spyraki
Co-chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on ‘Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development’
Contrary to the common belief about odours, there is growing evidence that persistent exposure to odours can have significant effects that go beyond mere inconvenience; it can cause headaches, throat and eye irritation, nausea, sleeplessness, anxiety, stress, or even respiratory problems. In Europe, odours are the second most common environmental complaint after noise, and yet there are serious gaps in their regulation and management.
Regulating odour pollution is complicated. Traditional methods of odour measurement are expensive and difficult to implement. They measure odour concentrations in the air and model the average impact it might have in the surrounding area. It is done this way, because it is considered even more challenging to objectively assess the actual impact of odours on affected citizens. Access to reliable data on odour nuisance is another challenge because it is usually the responsibility of the emitter (polluter) to collect the data. These challenges may be why odour regulations are still disparate in Europe; they differ significantly within countries, and in many places they are completely lacking. Although the European standard EN13725:2003 establishes how to measure odours by dynamic olfactometry in the emission sources, it does not measure the real exposure level in the receptors, nor its associated nuisance.
Without a harmonized global or European approach, addressing odours at local level is challenging and it leaves citizens, who have to deal with odour annoyance in their daily lives, to their own devices, while odour emitting industries also do not have the benefit of a clear regulatory framework or a continuous monitoring system to adapt their activities.
This European Parliament Intergroup event, co-organized with MIO-ECSDE and the EU-funded D-NOSES project will bring together policy-makers, representatives from industries, communities and scientists to present their perspective on the issue, also based on the Green Paper on Odour Pollution. The Green Paper outlines the main challenges of regulating odours and puts forth recommendations towards an improved policy framework for odour pollution, including a multi-level governance model developed by D-NOSES.
This event is happening at a time when, driven by the European Green Deal, many EU policies and regulations that should adequately address odour emissions, are under development or revision.
 The Distributed Network for Odour Sensing, Empowerment and Sustainability (D-NOSES) project received funding from the European’s Union Horizon 2020 Science with & for Society Call (SwafS) under grant agreement No. 789315. It is an EU-funded project that kickstarted a much-needed collaborative journey to tackle the problem of odours by revisiting the way in which odour pollution is commonly tackled and by empowering citizens to become a driving force for change through RRI, citizen science and co-creation tools to map and measure the problem, and co-design solutions with key quadruple helix stakeholders.