Odour concentration expressed in terms of OUE/m3 by using the dynamic olfactometry analysis, standardized by the European Norm (EN) 13725 are by now the most commonly and worldwide accepted method to measure odours. The EN, first edition published in the year 2003, is actually under review process by the WG2 of the CEN/TC246 and the end of the revision work is expected for the year 2018. Related to the odour panel the standard fixes some parameters (e.g: panel size). Nothing is, however, performed about the composition of the panel members in terms of their gender, the age of the involved persons and their origin and nationality. Also the current literature is limited to discussing how the measurement of emission rates derived from the same odour source could be related to the panel composition.
The scope of this study is to investigate the influence on the determination of odour concentration with dynamic olfactometry, according to EN 13725 standards, applying different panel conditions, with the objective to define the optimal criteria to evaluate the odour concentration and obtain the highest repeatability and accuracy of the sensorial measure.
A critical evaluation was carried out in relation to the same odour source with the comparison of the different panel composition (in terms of gender, age and nationality) to measure the odour concentration. In the experimental studies the measurements were conducted within 5 h after sampling to reduce the variability of the mixture and increase the reliability. All assessors who participate in odour measurements were qualified and tested according the quality criteria assurance foreseen by the EN13725. Studies were taken considering real environmental odour emissions collected at a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).
The results obtained show a not significantly influence of the investigated characteristics of the single panel member in the repeatability assurance of the measure of the odour concentration by dynamic olfactometry. While a variation of the results in terms of OU/m3 is demonstrated related to the different nationality and biological factors (age and gender) of the assessors. There is therefore the need to consider these factors in the current odour determination practices, for example in calculating the uncertainty factor of the measurement.