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The Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ) held its 22nd conference at The Pullman Hotel in Melbourne this year. Katestone’s consultants Natalie and Mick were on the scene!

The Conference kicked off with a number of Special Interest Group workshops covering odour, dispersion modelling, measurement, traffic and risk assessment. These workshops provided delegates an opportunity to share experiences and discuss the future. Over the course of the three day conference more than 100 papers were presented by delegates covering the many areas of interest of CASANZ including: measurement, modelling, exposure and health, policy and planning, climate change, transport and community engagement.

Report from our team

natalie-shaw-sq-bwKatestone Principal Consultant, Natalie Shaw, attended the measurement workshop and heard from various state government agencies from Australia and New Zealand about experiences and developments in the monitoring of particulates (as PM2.5). The agencies highlighted the pros and cons of various instruments and compared results . The afternoon session provided an opportunity for the manufacturers of monitoring equipment to present the latest monitoring solutions for PM2.5; from monitors that provide a compositional breakdown of the particles to low cost monitors that can be deployed quickly and require minimal maintenance.

Katestone Senior Consultant, Micheal Fogarty, attended the Odour Special Interest Group (OdourSIG) Workshop and enlivened the debate between olfactometry practitioners, odour impact consultants, odour abatement specialists and regulators (state and council).

There were presentations given on odour modelling assessment techniques, the use of biofilters for the abatement of poultry odour and the use of panellists for the assessment of odour in the field. The complexity of odour impact assessment was highlighted in the wide variety of opinions and the best methods to adopt. It was widely accepted there is a lack of guidance literature on odour related topics and the CASANZ Odour SIG was an appropriate forum to provide this guidance. It was also clear that considerable research is required to provide solid foundations for guidance documents.

Out of the many interesting topics raised at the conference, here are our highlights (and one lowlight!):

Keynote addresses

International keynote speakers Simon Birkett (Founder and Director of ‘Clean Air London’), Dr Sarah Henderson (Senior Scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control) and Professor Rod Jones (Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Centre of Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge) provided interesting perspectives into their respective fields.

Simon Birkett invented the ‘Birkett Index’ an App that reports the health impact of long-term exposure to PM2.5 based on WHO guidelines. Dr Sarah Henderson discussed the effects of episodes of poor air quality in cities where the air quality is typically good. Professor Rod Jones described low cost sensors and sensor networks for monitoring the environment from urban pollution to the upper atmosphere, and air quality to greenhouse gases.

Dust emission factors in coal mining – watch this space

Of particular interest to our air quality team were presentations on new dust emission factors for the coal industry, with recent studies recommending changes to the emission factors currently in use. We will definitely be watching to see what develops and how it may affect the work that we do for our clients.

Should night-time hours be included in odour dispersion modelling, because people are generally asleep at night-time?

A hot debate at the OdourSIG workshop; those in favour of including the night referred to anecdotes where people allege that they were “…awoken from sleep due to the smell”. Those arguing against cited the fact that people do not always seem to be woken by the smell of smoke in the case of house fires. The counter argument was not widely supported for obvious reasons.

Is “field olfactometry” useful for assessment of odour impacts from existing facilities?

Field olfactometry is the use of trained human observers to measure odour levels in the vicinity of odorous activities. The major limitation is that there is no Australian Standard or other guidance that clearly defines how this technique can be used. Regardless, in recent years many products have come onto the market that are claimed to be suitable for use in field olfactometry. The delegates agreed that the OdourSIG could be a starting place to address the lack of guidance. The OdourSIG chair appeared excited about the prospect!

Biofiltration for odour reduction

The use of biofiltration as a technique for odour reduction was advocated by a number of companies that attended the OdourSIG workshop (including us!). Biofiltration is a highly effective way of treating odorous airstreams from installations including wastewater treatment plants, sewage reticulation networks, rendering plants and abattoirs. Delegates agreed that best practice guideline for the design and operation of biofilters for the reduction of odorous emissions should be developed by the OdourSIG.

The delegates agreed that hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is one of the easiest compounds to treat in a biofilter as it is readily absorbed into the biofilm where it is oxidised quickly by microbes. It was noted that other odorous compounds are not as effectively treated and, therefore, H2S was not a good marker for odour control efficiency. The search for a good marker continues!

The last paper

Natalie was lucky enough to score the last talk of the conference in the community engagement session. Considering the timeslot, the talk was well attended and well received. Natalie’s presentation outlined the clear benefits of odour modelling to investigate odour complaints in a real-life and very complex industrial setting. Natalie presented work undertaken for the Rutherford Odour Investigation where some exciting and innovative techniques produced some excellent results. If you would like a copy of the paper or presentation please contact our office.

No rock champions!

The conference dinner was themed “Get your rock on!” with delegates taking the opportunity to dress in their best rock n roll outfit. It was a lively evening as everyone participated in the rock quiz. Whilst Natalie and Mick claim their team was in the running at the beginning of the evening to take out the night, alleged “misuse of the buzzer” in the speed round found the team dropping well down the ladder. Further details were difficult to come by!

2017 here we come!

The next CASANZ conference is to be held in our home town of Brisbane. With Natalie secretary of the QLD branch of the society, I’m sure we will have lots of involvement. The smart money is on Natalie’s team to win the rock quiz and her presentation will be scheduled for just after breakfast on the first day!