In a recent review, Sweeten et al. (2001) define odor as the human olfactory response to many discrete odorous gases. Regarding the constituents of animal odors, Eaton (1996) listed 170 unique compounds in swine manure odor, while Schiffman et al. (2001) identified 331. Hutchinson et al. (1982) and Peters and Blackwood (1977) identified animal waste as a source of NH3 and amines. Sulfides, volatile fatty acids, alcohols, aldehydes, mercaptans, esters, and carbonyls were identified as constituents of animal waste by the National Research Council (NRC, 1979), and by Miner (1975), Barth et al. (1984), and the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (1999). Peters and Blackwood (1977) list 31 odorants from beef cattle feedlots. Zahn et al. (2001) found that nine VOCs correlated with swine odor. The sources of odors include animal buildings, feedlots, manure handling, manure storage and treatment facilities, and land applications.
Sweeten et al. (2001) also outline various scientific and engineering issues related to odors, including odor sampling and measurement methods. Odors are characterized by intensity or strength, frequency, duration, offensiveness, and character or quality. Odor concentration is used for odor emission measurement. Several methods are available for measuring odor concentrations including sensory methods, measurement of concentrations of specific odorous gases (directly or indirectly), and electronic noses.
Human sensory methods are the most commonly used. They involve collecting and presenting odor samples (diluted or undiluted) to panelists under controlled conditions using scentometers (Huey et al., 1960; Miner and Stroh, 1976: Sweeten et al. 1977, 1983, 1991; Barnebey-Cheny, 1987), dynamic olfactometers, and absorption media (Miner and Licht, 1981;Williams and Schiffman, 1996; Schiffman and Williams, 1999). Among sensory methods the Dynamic Triangle Forced-Choice Olfactometer (Watts et al., 1991; Ogink et al., 1997; Hobbs et al., 1999) appears to be the instrument of choice. Currently, there is an effort among researchers from several universities, including Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, Purdue University, and Texas A & M University, to standardize the measurement protocol for odor measurement using the olfactometer.
Some odor emission data are available in the literature, particularly for swine operations (e.g., Powers et al., 1999). However, there are discrepancies among the units used in different studies. Standard measurement protocols and consistent units for odor emission rates and factors have to be developed. As shown in a recent review (Sweeten et al., 2001), the data (see Table L-1) on odor or odorant emission rates, flux rates, and emission factors are lacking for most livestock species (and for different ages and housing) and are needed for the development of science-based abatement technologies. Further research in well-equipped laboratories is needed as a precursor to rational attempts to develop emission factors for odor and odorants.