Odorous emissions from sewers and wastewater treatment plants are a complex mixture of volatile chemicals that can cause annoyance to local populations, resulting in complaints to wastewater operators. Due to the variability in hedonic tone and chemical character of odorous emissions, no analytical technique can be applied universally for the assessment of odour abatement performance. Recent developments in analytical methodologies, specifically gas chromatography, odour assessment approaches (odour wheels, the odour profile method and dynamic olfactometry), and more recently combined gas chromatography-sensory analysis, have contributed to improvements in our ability to assesses odorous emissions in terms of odorant concentration and composition. This review collates existing knowledge with the aim of providing new insight into the effectiveness of sensorial and characterisation approaches to improve our understanding of the fate of odorous emissions during odour abatement. While research in non-specific sensor array (e-nose) technology has resulted in progress in the field of continuous odour monitoring, more successful long term case-studies are still needed to overcome the early overoptimistic performance expectations. Knowledge gaps still remain with regards to the decomposition of thermally unstable volatile compounds (especially sulfur compounds), the inability to predict synergistic, antagonistic, or additive interactions among odorants in combined chemical/sensorial analysis techniques, and the long term stability of chemical sensors due to sensor drift, aging, temperature/relative humidity effects, and temporal variations. Future odour abatement monitoring will require the identification of key odorants to facilitate improved process selection, design and management. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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