Pollution from odour can cause harm to the environment or people. Businesses must make sure that any odour from their activities or premises doesn’t impact the local community. This includes being responsible for contractors or tradespeople they may hire.  

What the law says about odour

The Environment Protection Act 1970 (the Act) covers air pollution, including odour. Section 41 says that businesses must not pollute the air to make it unsafe or offensive to others. 

There are also other laws about air quality. The State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management) (publication S240) outlines: 

  • the legal responsibilities of businesses
  • ways to reduce odour 
  • recommended limits or standards for odour. 

How this applies depends on the activity and the source of odour. 

If odours exceed the recommendations, a business may need to assess the risk. The risk assessment would need to cover: 

  • how often the odour happens
  • how long the odour lasts
  • how strong the odours is.

Licences, permits and odour

Depending on the type of activity, businesses may need a licence or permit to operate. The Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises) Regulations 2017 say to which premises this applies. 

Businesses may have to give EPA a financial assurance. A financial assurance is a guarantee that a business will pay for cleaning up any pollution it causes. Businesses can ask their bank to provide this in writing. It's called a bank guarantee.  

Australian Standards and odour

There are also Australian Standards about odour. They give businesses information about sampling and analysing odour.  

Your local council and odour

Your local council may also have rules for the community and businesses to follow. 

Read more about odour 

About odour 

Odour and EPA's role

Report odour 

Describing what odour smells like

Reviewed 18 September 2020