Public Lab Research note

Logging Complex Odors

by sarasage | October 29, 2021 18:50 29 Oct 18:50 | #27983 | #27983

sarasage was awarded the Empiricism Barnstar by liz for their work in this research note.

During the summer, our fellowship team logged ambient odors on field sheets to accompany data from our gas monitors. As we are closing up the fellowship and looking through the data, we want to know what quality of odors are coming into our community from a nearby landfill - and if there are patterns or trends in the type, frequency or accompanying factors.

In the past, we defined odors like decomposing waste, as "green waste" or "trash," which are subjective descriptors. I was inspired to reduce the odors to their basic components, remembering a toy my daughter loved when she was younger. It was a perfume science lab, wherein you could make fragrances using approximately 6 different base odors (vanilla, lemon, sandalwood, etc).

Perfume Science

I identified the base odors that emanate from a nearby landfill:

  1. Sweet
  2. Rot
  3. Fecal
  4. Ammonia
  5. Chemical
  6. Sulfur

Odors that we used to describe as "kitchen trash" became, "sweet" and "rot" because those are the primary components of that particular odor. Instead of "wastewater sludge," we described the smell as "fecal" and "ammonia."

Wheel of Misfortune

With this method, we can enter data into categories on a spreadsheet that we can analyze at a later time:



I love this a lot!!!! Amazing work Sara!

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wow!!! I love that graphic. So good!

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This looks excellent to me! Thank you!

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@liz awards a barnstar to sarasage for their awesome contribution!

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This is awesome. Sharing this resource from SDCEA, though I assume you've already seen it!

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