Industrial Rotten Egg Smell May Be Eradicated

If you've ever driven on the Indiana Turnpike into Chicago, you know you will pass through a few stretches of highway that smell like rotten eggs. It's not just in Indiana, it's in every state that features industrial manufacturing. I used to take a bus to work in downtown Cleveland. If I'd nod off, I'd surely wake up once we were on the bridge over the steel mill -- the sulfur smell was unbearable.

Stinky for sure, but it's just one of those facts of modern life. Or is it? At the forefront of managing odors are chemical engineers who use a range of abatement technologies to reduce emissions, including: biofiltration; chemical scrubbing; activated carbon filters; and reagents and masking.

According to a press release from The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), the traditional method of odor emission detection has been the simple ‘sniff’ method or FIDOL (frequency, intensity, duration, offensiveness and location).

But a smell that could knock a buzzard of a manure cart may not smell that bad to others. So whose nose knows best?

Peter Badham, research and development manager at Air Spectrum Environmental, says that computer models are able to accurately predict the odor footprint on communities and potential new technologies using ozone and ultra-violet light also offer further opportunities to clear the air.

“Although it is virtually impossible to eradicate all industrial-scale smells, odors like hydrogen sulphide – often associated with rotten eggs – are likely to become less common in future years.”

That's great news for the nose. But what will my husband blame the smell on now?

To learn more, check out the press release.

Traci-bio-photo.jpgTraci Purdum
Senior Digital Editor and fan of eradicating olfactory offenses. You can e-mail her at