Odour is a mixture of gases in the air that we can smell. Odours can include pleasant scents and unpleasant smells. Human activities, like landfills and industry, cause most odours. 

Sources of odour  

The most common sources of odour are:  

  • landfills  
  • food processing plants  
  • chemical industries  
  • poor treatment of sewage.  

Other sources of odour can include:  

  • composting  
  • manufacturing  
  • agriculture  
  • drilling  
  • coal-fired power stations  
  • animal farms and facilities  
  • rendering plants  
  • waste treatment  
  • coffee roasters  
  • bakeries  
  • breweries.  

The impact of odour  

In most cases, odour pollution doesn’t have long-term health effects. Odour can be uncomfortable, leading to:  

  • headaches  
  • nausea  
  • vomiting.  

Odours can also make it unpleasant to go outside or open windows. The more often, strong and ongoing an odour is, the more it can impact the community.

If you feel ill from odour, contact a health professional. 

Read more about odour

Odour: EPA's role

Odour: the law

Report odour

Describing what odour smells like

Your health and the environment: learn and take action

Reviewed 16 March 2021