Every year, the Air quality in Europe (AQE) Report presents an updated overview and analysis of air quality in Europe. This year the AQE report edited by the European Environment Agency (EEA) presented the progress towards meeting the requirements of the air quality directives made in 2020. Once again, the AQE report failed short to recognize the odours as a pollutant with a key impact on the air quality in Europe.
The Air quality in Europe (AQE) report analyses on an annually basis how the concentration of some chemical pollutants affects the air that we breathe in Europe. These chemicals are supposed to have the highest impact on air quality and thus on health. But where do odours stand here?
However, one more time, and it is now 10 years in a row, this report has failed to recognize odour as a key vector to study the Air Quality in a city or town in Europe. By not considering the influence of odours on the air quality in Europe, once again this report has disappointingly fallen short. Above all, considering that the German legislation on Air Quality has been very recently updated with new odour levels in ambient air.
This report neglects to consider the wide scientific literature about the impact of odours on health. Reports of adverse human health effects associated with odors from industrial plants have been recorded by numerous studies1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12. The most frequently reported problems include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headache, nausea, diarrhea, cough, chest tightness, palpitations, shortness of breath, stress and drowsiness.
Many epidemiological dose effect studies have been carried out showing a strong correlation between calculated exposure to odours and surveyed percentages of odour-annoyed individuals in a population. However, it seems that the EEA has neglected this information and has presented a biased report about the air quality in Europe. Biased cause odour impact is relevant to the air quality, and they are not there.
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- Baldwin CM, Bell IR, Guerra S, Quan SF. Association between chemical odor intolerance and sleep disturbances in community-living adults. Sleep Medicine 5:53-59 (2004).
- Cantuaria, M.L., Brandt, J., Løfstrøm, P., Blanes-Vidal, V., Public perception of rural environmental quality: Moving towards a multi-pollutant approach. Atmos. Environ. 170, 234–244. (2017)
- Dalton P. Cognitive Influence on Health Symptoms from Acute Chemical Exposure. Health Psychology Vol.18 No.6.579-590 (1999)
- Dalton P. Understanding the Human Response. How people sense, perceive and react to odors. BioCycle, November 2003.
- Dalton, P., C.J. Wysocki, M.J. Brody, and H.J. Lawley,The influence of cognitive bias on the perceived odor, irritation and health symptoms from chemical exposure. Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health 69: 407-417. (1997)
- Deane M., Sanders G., Jonsson E. Trends and community annoyance reactions to odors from pulp mills Eureka, California 1969–1971. Environmental Res. 14. 1977: 232-244
- Government of Alberta. (2017). Odours and Human Health. Environmental Public Health Science Unit, Health Protection Branch, Public Health and Compliance Division, Alberta Health. Edmonton, Alberta.Link here.
- Heaney CD., et al. Relation between malodor, ambient hydrogen sulfide, and health in a community bordering a landfill. Environ Res. Aug;111(6):847-52 (2011).
- Helene M. Loos, Linda Schreiner, Brid Karacan, A systematic review of physiological responses to odours with a focus on current methods used in event-related study designs, International Journal of Psychophysiology, Volume 158, 2020, Pages 143-157
- Miedema, H.M.E., Walpot, J.I., Vos, H., Steunenberg, C.F., 2000. Exposure-annoyance relationships for odour from industrial sources. Atmos. Environ. 34, 2927e2936.
- Oiamo T., Luginaah I, Baxter J.; Cumulative effects of noise and odour annoyances on environmental and health related quality of life. Social Science & Medicine 146, 191-203 (2015)
- Ragoobar T., ganpat w., and rocke k.; Physical well-being and malodour exposure: the impact of an intensive pig farming operation on a community in trinidad. International Journal of Science, Environment and Technology, Vol. 5, No 2, (2016)
- Rethage et. al., Körperliche Beschwerden im zusammenhang mit Geruchsbelästigungen im Wohnumfeld. Perspektiven für eine systematische, effektive Erfassung, VDI, Gerüche in der Umwelt (2007).
- Shiffman S.S., E.A. Sattely Miller et al. The Effect Of Environmental Odors Emanating From Commercial Swine Operations On The Mood Of Residents Nearby. Brain Research Bulletin, Vol. 37, Pages 369- 375 (1995).
- Schiffmann SS, et al. Potential health effects of odor from animal operations, wastewater treatment, and recycling of byproducts. J Agromedicine. 9(2):397-403, (2004)
- Shusterman D, Lipscomb J, Neutra R, Satin K. Symptom prevalence and odor-worry interaction near hazardous waste sites. Environmental Health Perspectives. 1991;94:25.
- Steinheider. B. Environmental odours and somatic complaints. Zentralbl Htg Umweltmed, 1999.
- Steinheider B, Winneke G. Industrial odours as environmental stressors: Exposure-annoyance associations and their modification by coping, age and perceived health. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 1993;13(4):353-63.
- Sucker et al. Adverse effects of environmental odours: Reviewing studies on annoyance responses and symptom reporting. Water. Sci. Technol, (2001)
- van Harreveld AP, Jones N, Stoaling M. Environment Agency. Assessment of Community Response to Odorous Emissions, R&D Technical Report P4-095/TR, ISBN 1 857059 247. (2002)
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