We get more complaints about odour than any other type of air emission. Residents mention being unable to enjoy their own property and outdoor activities, such as gardening and barbeques, and even having to close their windows and doors during hot weather.
Odour is the sensation that is caused by breathing in odorous air contaminants. Usually, a mixture of contaminants is involved, which makes odour very difficult to measure. Some odours will mask others (that’s how air fresheners work) and sometimes the combination of two odours is worse than either alone (for example two perfumes that just don’t work together).
Although the levels of individual odorous air contaminants can be measured with equipment, the best instrument for measuring odour is the human nose. Some people have far more sensitive noses and will smell an odour at much lower levels than others. In addition, an odour that one person may like may be objectionable to another, such as smells from perfume stores, coffee roasters, bakeries or a brewery.
Metro Vancouver regulates odorous air contaminants by targeting specific sources and contaminants in industrial permits.