Assessing the inter-annual variability of separation distances around odour sources to protect the residents from odour annoyance

J Environ Sci (China). 2019 May;79:11-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jes.2018.09.018. Epub 2018 Sep 28.


In recent years, there has been a growing concern about potential impacts on public health and wellbeing due to exposure to environmental odour. Separation distances between odour-emitting sources and residential areas can be calculated using dispersion models, as a means of protecting the neighbourhood from odour annoyance. This study investigates the suitability of using one single year of meteorological input data to calculate reliable direction-dependent separation distances. Accordingly, we assessed and quantified the inter-annual variability of separation distances at two sites with different meteorological conditions, one in Brazil and the other in Austria. A 5-year dataset of hourly meteorological observations was used for each site. Two odour impact criteria set in current regulations were selected to explore their effect on the separation distances. The coefficient of variation was used as a statistical measure to characterise the amount of annual variation. Overall, for all scenarios, the separation distances had a low degree of inter-annual variability (mean coefficient of variation values from 8% to 21%). Reasonable agreements from year to year were therefore observed at the two sites under investigation, showing that one year of meteorological data is a good compromise to achieve reliable accuracy. This finding can provide a more cost-effective solution to calculate separation distances in the vicinity of odour sources.

Keywords: Dispersion modelling; Environmental odour; Impact assessment; Odour annoyance; Regulatory criteria; Separation distance.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / prevention & control*
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Humans
  • Meteorological Concepts
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Odorants / analysis*


  • Air Pollutants