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Odour Annoyance Near Waste Treatment Centres: A Population-Based Study in Finland

Aatamila, Marjaleena*†; Verkasalo, Pia K*; Korhonen, Maarit J; Viluksela, Marja K§; Pasanen, Kari*; Tiittanen, Pekka*; Nevalainen, Aino*

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000362533.35893.72
Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts

*Department of Environmental Health, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Kuopio, Finland; †Department of Environmental Science, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland; ‡School of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland; and §Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Kuopio, Finland.


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Background and Objectives:

Decomposition of biodegradable waste in municipal waste centres may produce odour emissions and subsequently cause discomfort to nearby residents. The public health importance of the resulting nuisance has not been sufficiently characterized. Our objective was to study the perception and annoyance of waste odour among residents in relation to distance from a large-scale source.

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In 2006, we interviewed by telephone 1,142 randomly selected residents living within 5 km from the boundaries of five waste treatment centres. These centres were landfilling municipal waste and composting source-separated biowaste and/or sludge. The questionnaire consisted of 102 items on perceived nuisance and self-reported health during the preceding 12 months. Odds ratios (OR) and confidence intervals (CI) were calculated adjusting for sex and age.

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The proportion of respondents perceiving odour varied by centre and distance (<1.5 km: 66%–100%, 1.5 km ≤ 3 km: 13%–84%; 3 km ≤ 5 km: 2%–64%). The pooled OR for odour annoyance was 6.1 (95% CI 3.7–10) in the intermediate and 19 (95% CI 12–32) in the innermost zone compared with residents in the outermost zone. Odour annoyance was more affected by intensity than by frequency of odour perception.

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The high level of odour perception and annoyance in residents living near waste treatment centres draws attention to the need to prevent odour nuisance constricting emission peaks and frequent emissions. Since odours may affect fairly distant residential areas, planning of the locations of waste treatment operations is essential.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.