Investigating the Urban Smellscape Using Citizen Science – The Smell Vancouver Project
National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (Vancouver)
Agricultural and industrial activities within the urban and peri-urban landscape create abundant opportunities for exposure to unpleasant odours. Although odours are typically addressed as a nuisance issue, frequent exposure to outdoor odours can have widespread community impacts, including physical and mental health impacts and changes in behaviours that may indirectly impact health (e.g., keeping windows closed despite the need for fresh air, avoiding outdoor exercise, etc.). Odour complaints may also become corrosive community and public health issues, as the impacts on residents must be weighed against emissions from often necessary agricultural and industrial activities.
This session will describe the Smell Vancouver Project (https://smell-vancouver.ca/), an interdisciplinary research initiative incorporating citizen science to empower and engage odour-affected communities. Smell Vancouver uses both an app to collect odour reports and symptoms as well as innovative geospatial and statistical analyses to understand the source and effects of those odours. The researchers will discuss the origins and objectives of Smell Vancouver and share initial findings on data clusters in the qualitative odour experience (odours experienced, symptoms induced, and actions taken in response). We will also discuss the quantitative association of daily odour report counts with air quality and meteorological indicators, and the spatial distribution of hotspots, coldspots, and spatial anomalies in the Metro Vancouver region. Finally, we will present results from a screening method that uses back-trajectory modeling to probabilistically estimate the source location of odour reports and discuss the relevance of this information for residents, regulators, and industry.