Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Idaho Environmental Guide for Local Governments: Odor Control

Odor is defined in DEQ's air pollution control rules as "the sensation resulting from stimulation of the human sense of smell" (IDAPA Odor is a sensitive subject because perception of odors is subjective. What smells bad to one person may not offend another. Our sensitivities and reactions to odors are influenced by personal preferences, opinions, experiences, and the varying sensitivities of our olfactory systems.

Why Communities Should Care

The Rules for the Control of Air Pollution in Idaho (Section 776) state in part that "No person shall allow, suffer, cause or permit the emission of odorous gases, liquids or solids into the atmosphere in such quantities as to cause air pollution."

Odors are a concern for Idahoans and a frequent source of citizen complaints to state and local government agencies. A wide range of operations, including livestock feedlots, wastewater treatment plants, and various other industries, may generate odors.

Cities and counties are responsible for addressing odor problems caused by pets or the presence of livestock in residential areas.

What Communities Can Do

  • Prior to project approval, request that project information specify applicability of requirements under IDAPA
  • Plan ahead by incorporating odor management into the comprehensive plan and zoning regulatons. Industrial and agricultural areas should be properly zoned so the public is not affected by odorous industries.
  • Understand how a project may create odor and consider requiring projects within the jurisdiction to develop odor management plans prior to project approval. Odor management plans can include using appropriate best management practices that detail how applicants will manage odors occurring from proposed operations.
  • Local governments have the authority to implement ordinances that help prevent odors beyond state and federal laws and regulations. Determine what is best for the health and welfare of the community.

State and Local Regulatory Responsibilities

In general...

...if the odor is created by a business or industry regulated by DEQ, in most cases, DEQ will investigate and work to resolve the odor complaint through development, modification, and/or enforcement of an odor management plan.

...if the odor is created by an agricultural operation, it is the Idaho State Department of Agriculture's responsibility to address the problem.

...if the odor is created by a solid waste facility, it is the responsibility of the Public Health District in which the source is located to resolve the situation.

...if the odor is created by pets or the presence of livestock in residential areas, city or county zoning regulations apply.

Staff Contacts

Air Quality Data Bureau Chief
Steve Miller
DEQ State Office
Air Quality Division
1410 N. Hilton
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0432