Effects of Industrial Odors on Residential Communities in Colorado

Recent years have witnessed a widespread increase of interest in the relationship between industrial odors and community well-being. Odor assessment, in general, can be done by analytical monitoring, or odor sensory methods. The analytical monitoring of an individual chemical compound may not be accurate since odors are often consist of a complex mixture of many compounds. Human assessment requires training and give results at the study time and circumstances. The key of this study to use the available technology to enable people to report industrial odors in the place and the time of occurrence. Ultimately the goal is to provide information to communities so that they can work with the industries in their neighborhoods to find a solution to improve their air quality and well-being.

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The northern part of the Denver metropolitan area has many factories, and two major highways. On the other hand, it has a number of residential areas extending along the north of Denver from Chaffee Park in the west to Commerce City in the east. A number of complaints from these north Denver residents about strong industrial odors has been recorded. People occasionally reported that they suffer burning eyes and throat, headaches, skin irritation, coughing and breathe difficulties due to strong odors. In response to these complaints a study was done on the Globeville community in 2012. This Globeville study was funded by an EPA Environmental Justice Grant and was completed in 2012, with a peer-reviewed paper published in 2015. Efforts to identify the odor and its potential sources include a door-to-door survey, meteorological correlations, and air quality sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur gases, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

The Globeville study concluded that the area has potential industrial sources of odors and reported high levels of naphthalene. The study recommended a more detailed investigation to explain the effects of odors in communities such as Globeville, to assess the relationship between odor exposure and well-being, and to understand the effect of odor mixtures.

To further investigate the effects of industrial odors on residential communities and to explore whether there is an association with personal well-being, the study area is extended to include the north of Denver metropolitan communities of Globeville, Chaffee Park, Sunny Side, Elyria Swansea, and Commerce City. Four other Colorado communities with similar demography (income, race, residents per household) have been chosen for comparison purposes; Fort Lupton, Greeley, Fort Collins, and Pueblo. In addition, the survey methods will be applied to international communities, such as in El Beida, Libya and Bizarre, Tunisia. Data are collected using online surveys and a smart phone app (Android only).  The surveys can be found here: Greeley,  Fort LuptonNorth Denver, Fort Collins, and Pueblo.  We also have a spanish version of the survey. A reporting smart phone application (SPA) report odor 1 (the app that participants can use can be downloaded here: Report Odor 1) is used to report odors in their area, and here is the on-line link for those who do not want to report with a smart phone. The study targets 100 participants from each community. The participants are being recruited continuously. After agreeing and signing the consent participants are asked to take the online survey four times; once every three months. They are also asked to use the SPA to repot odors regularly whenever they notice them. In addition the participants receive requests at the same time to describe the air odor. In this case, they can report that the air is odorless.

For any questions, feel free to contact: visit our Facebook page, send an email to reportodor1@gmail.com  or call 720-375-3132.