Guide: An overview of odor control: What is it, and how to control it?

An unpleasant, pungent smell comes into our minds whenever we think about odor. In fact, different people have different experiences related to odors. Most of the time, these are not great experiences.

Have you ever thought of odor control solutions? Industrial odor control solutions are very effective in reducing or eliminating odors in the air or water. In this article, you will find out more about types of industrial odors, the causes of these odors, and how to control odors in industrial settings.

Where does industrial odor come from?

Odor is a sensation originating from stimulus through the olfactory system. Usually, an industrial odor is treated as a foul smell that comes from sewage treatments and industrial areas. It has been linked to air quality and quality of life, which is why the demand for odor control has increased.

Various industrial processes and daily life activities release noxious odors into the air. The discharged smell travels to surrounding areas, leaving a substantial impact, and making it difficult for people working and living in the area.

Common sources of industrial odors include, but are not limited to:

  • fertilizer manufacturers: fish wastes and compost
  • canners and food producers: debris and by-products
  • tanneries: chemicals and FOGs (fat, oil and grease)
  • pharmaceutical plants and breweries: fermentation wastes, effluents and dumps
  • petroleum refining: Alkylation, storage, bitumen production, and processed water
  • municipalities: dumps, lagoons, settling ponds and treatment plants
  • chemical manufacturers: resins, adhesives, rubber, paints, varnish coatings, fats and oils
  • textile and paper mills: washing, separation, bleaching, drying, dyeing, etc.

John Von Bergen (1958) Industrial Odor Control, Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association, 8:2, 101-111, DOI: 10.1080/00966665.1958.10467834

In factories, odors are released from different production processes. These odor molecules diffuse through the air, and can be detected by workers as well as the surrounding community. Odors can be analyzed in different ways. Various tests like hedonics, chromatography, and olfactometry can establish the characteristics, identity and intensity of odors that are present.

The wind flowing near the industrial plant creates turbulence down to the ground in a spreading area known as a down splash. Under these conditions, the concentrations of odor can be very high.

What are the different types of industrial odors?

Depending on the industry and the gas(es) they emit, industrial odors can be categorized into different types, but are not limited to: Oil refineries, landfills, paper mills and wastewater treatment plants. These odors are caused by primarily total reduced sulfur (TRC), ammonia, and amines.

Sewer odors / Wastewater

Sewer odors are a complex mixture of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, skatoles, indoles and various other gases. The sewage system collects waste and various household chemicals.  All of these can cause bad sewage odors.

For instance, a dominant source of sewer odors originates at wastewater pumps or lift stations. These systems are an important part of sewage systems and are used to move sewage from one location to another when gravity cannot be relied upon.

Before the pumping cycle begins, wastewater flows and stagnates in the pump station, releasing odors into the air. Odorous gases include various ketones, fatty acids, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), amines, sulfides, and aldehydes.

Odor is detected by the human nose when the odorous gas present in the atmosphere is higher than its odor detection threshold concentration. Hydrogen sulfide is often the dominant cause of odor in sewers, due to its low threshold and high concentration, which can reach up to 100 ppm or higher.

Hydrogen sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide has an odor that resembles rotten eggs. It is a common component of sewer gas produced by the bacterial anaerobic breakdown of organic material. Although the gas has not been linked to specific diseases, even low concentrations can irritate the nose and throat, causing headaches and loss of appetite. At the same time, high concentrations can lead to eye damage and fluid accumulation in the lungs.


Ammonia is a prevalent chemical in both the industrial and commercial sectors. About 80% of ammonia produced by industry is used as fertilizers in agriculture. It also works as a purifier of water supplies, a gas refrigerant in industrial cleaning products, dyes, plastics, textiles, and explosives. At room temperature, ammonia radiates a strong odor which can be pungent and suffocating.

Inhaling low amounts of ammonia can cause nose and throat irritation and coughing. Being in contact with high ammonia concentrations irritates the nose, throat, and respiratory tract, leading to respiratory distress or failure.

Solid waste / landfill odor

Municipal solid waste odor can be defined as rancid and sulfuric. Generally, the cause of the rotten egg-like odor is hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan. Acetic acid, butyric acid, and acetaldehyde cause a rancid and sour smell. You will find pine odors and terpenes in green wastes.

In landfills, if not controlled with odor control solutions, the odor spreads into the surrounding neighborhood. Several pungent gases are produced in landfills, including sulfides and ammonia.

Landfill odor is generally caused by ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, produced during the breakdown of waste material. When demolition debris and construction materials contain a large amount of drywall, large quantities of hydrogen sulfide are formed as these materials decompose. Hydrogen sulfide has an unpleasant smell similar to rotten eggs, and ammonia has a strong, pungent odor. These odors can cause harm to health, and significantly affect the quality of life.

Air solution for solid waste

How can you control odor?

The most common methods to control industrial odors are:

  • Deodorizer is one way to reduce foul smells. Deodorizers eliminate unpleasant odors by chemically changing odorous particles, or destroying them from the air.
  • Different disinfectants kill microorganisms that create odor, such as molds, fungi, and bacteria.
  • Using a ventilation system can also help in eliminating odor. When odorous air passes through the ventilation system, the air is cleaned by forcing it through filters that trap and remove odorous particles from the air.

Industries can also use a process called “re-odorization.” In this process, the re-odorization system releases chemicals into the air to mix with the odor particles and generate a more pleasant smell. This re-odorization is equal to masking.

To remove odor at the source, for example, aeration is a method that is often used to remove organic pollutants in water that cause odor. With aeration, the water’s surface is mixed with air, and the oxygen oxidizes different materials that can turn the water foul.

Why is odor control important for businesses?

Odor is a significant problem for many businesses, industries, wastewater treatment facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, airports, and restaurants. All of these facilities release unpleasant odors into their surroundings.

Without proper treatment, odors can flow into the nearby areas, leading to complaints being taken to the local government, and damage to a brand’s reputation. Constant exposure to unpleasant odors can affect employees’ health and efficiency in many ways. Therefore, it is essential to find effective odor control solutions in keeping with local employment and environmental regulations that fit the unique needs of each business.

How does Ecolo help industrial odor control?

Ecolo provides different solutions to control industrial odor, including:


AirSolution water-soluble, liquid solutions work with advanced odor-elimination technology. These formulas are designed to neutralize different organic odors that are formed from various sources. AirSolution contains a complex proprietary blend that works well in eliminating targeted malodors. The airborne odor is removed when the diluted product is misted in contact with odorous air, which reduces airborne odor intensity by active counteractions.


BioStreme additive and topical formulas are specifically designed to enhance the growth and reproduction of beneficial bacteria through optimized essential nutrients. The formulas used in BioStreme contain amino acids, micronutrients, and complex organic extracts that help create a balanced biological environment to remove the formation of odor. Using BioStreme is an effective and affordable way to remove odor.


XStreme Vapor Solutions are comprised of industry-proven odor elimination technology. The product works on the same technology as the AirSolution line, but is highly concentrated and doesn’t require pre-dilution. The neutralizing agents found in XStreme are complex proprietary blends with 0% water, designed to eliminate unpleasant odors even in below-freezing temperatures. XStreme Vapor Solutions are designed to work for specific applications, mainly to remove targeted malodors. They work better than conventional misting, and the ultra-light particles quickly disperse throughout the enclosed space for uniform coverage and intensity. Common applications include trash rooms, HVAC, and exhaust stacks.

GelTech – Green Apple and Fresh Linen

GelTech works similarly to the AirSolution line. It works on advanced odor-elimination technology by using the process of odor neutralization to reduce odor particles. GelTech cartridges have about 90% active ingredients, and are super concentrated. The gel used in the product is phthalate-free and provides uniform release, excellent stability, and heat and cold stability.

Why do Ecolo’s solutions stand out compared to others?

Ecolo offers a variety of solutions in four major areas:

  • Wastewater
  • Solid waste
  • Commercial trash rooms
  • Industrial applications

Commercial trash room application.

Industrial application.

Solid waste application.

Wastewater application.

Ecolo uses a comprehensive two-pronged approach to remove industrial odor:

  1. Applying topical/addictive solutions to prevent the formation of odor.
  2. Removing airborne odor through vaporizing and misting.

Ecolo focuses on:

  • Odor elimination/counteraction instead of masking
  • Bio booster formulations that optimize microorganism growth
  • Highly concentrated formulas
  • Waterless solutions for year-round odor control
  • Environmentally-friendly solutions
  • Reliable equipment for solution delivery
  • Specialized proprietary formulations for various industries

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