Many residential communities and businesses have been built over the years close to landfills as towns and cities have grown. For people working or living near a landfill, one telltale sign of a landfill’s presence is often unpleasant odors.
Landfill gases are formed when buried waste decomposes due to microorganisms or volatizes as the waste changes from a liquid or solid to a vapor. These microbial and chemical processes create gases that can often be detected in areas surrounding a landfill.
Organic materials typically make up a large portion of the waste put into landfills. These materials tend to produce a great deal of gas and potential odors. There are many types of gases associated with landfills. Sulfides and ammonia are two of the most common sources of landfill odors. Sulfides produce a strong, rotten-egg smell. Ammonia produces a pungent odor that many people easily recognize.
Most of the time these and other odors are unlikely to pose any serious health hazards and are often considered a nuisance, but certain gases in high enough concentrations could pose a health concern under certain circumstances.
“Landfill odors and gases at high concentrations may cause people to experience eye irritation, headaches, nausea, and soreness of the respiratory tract,” reported Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President, Marketing at EMSL Analytical, a leading odor and air quality testing laboratory. “People who suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma can be especially sensitive to these odors and gases. EMSL provides testing supplies and analytical services to quickly and accurately help to identify the chemical makeup of odors to help determine if there could be health and safety concerns.”
EMSL recently sponsored an educational video about landfill odors that can be seen at:
To learn more about testing for odors or other indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental concerns, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800)220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.