Designing an effective air quality and odour monitoring program

Like business objectives, all monitoring programs are unique. There is no one device or software that will meet everybody’s needs.


Chaim Kolominskas


3 min

The best air quality and odour monitoring program is one that is designed to support your business objectives. There is no one device or software that will meet everybody’s needs and it is important to spend some time considering exactly why the monitoring is happening in the first place.

Compliance reporting is highly concerned with accuracy over defined averaging periods, which are often relatively long. Monitoring for operational management is more concerned with identifying increases in risk as quickly as possible. In this case, it is important to pick up short-term and significant changes quickly and provide systems that allow for the causes of these changes to be identified and mitigated quickly. 

Odour related monitoring is also complicated by the non-linear sensitivity of people to changes in concentration. For example, if the emission rate does not peak at more than three times the average value, then humans are unlikely to perceive significant changes in impact. In other words, equipment needs to be capable of operating over relatively large ranges to be useful for managing odour impacts.

Coverage and uptime

The principles of coverage and uptime are also important for operational management, as all incidents that could be avoided need to be identified before they develop for them to be effectively mitigated. This means that data management systems need to be based on stable communication hardware and protocols, with short-term (i.e. ‘real-time’) sampling and communication frequencies.

Monitoring systems also need to move beyond mere storage and display of information to be coupled with real-time interpretation of information, so that those in the best position to respond are provided with information in a format that is useful for them.

Envirosuite's regional view displaying real-time Odour Intensity using a network of low-cost E-Noses

A monitoring program that supports your business objectives

Suitability depends on factors such as accessibility and security and, importantly should be representative of local air quality. For example, seeking locations that are unaffected by turbulence from buildings or local vegetation.

Once these factors have been considered, you will be in a much better position to select appropriate hardware for your situation.

It is critical to clearly define the objectives of a monitoring program to ensure that monitors are fit for the intended purpose. The needs of a monitoring program designed for historical compliance reporting against published guidelines are different to a monitoring program designed to improve performance.