November 5, 2014

Project Overview

Odours have become a prominent issue in some communities in the Wood Buffalo region, as a result, WBEA’s Human Exposure Monitoring  Program (HEMP) monitors, detects and chemically characterizes odour compounds in ambient air. In addition to using specialized instrumentation to detect odours, HEMP has launched a community-based odour monitoring project. For this new initiative, WBEA recruits volunteer participants from communities within the Region. The Community Odour Monitoring Project (COMP) is currently focused on the community of Fort McMurray.


Monitoring human exposure to odours in the region is part of a long-term strategy of WBEA. Due to public and stakeholder concerns regarding odours, HEMP will continue to identify, assess and communicate how odours can be monitored and reported to community members. The main objective of WBEA’s COMP is to involve the community in identifying and monitoring odours in the air in order to determine the impact on residents.

Volunteer Timeline

COMP runs for approximately one year in a community, but it does not require a large commitment of time. In fact, volunteers are asked to go about their daily activities and simply record odours if, and when, they are noticed.

Fort McMurray (2013-2014 & 2014-2015) Community Odour Panel

WBEA’s Fort McMurray Community Odour Panel is a group of individuals selected from the local community who will monitor and report on odours as they notice odour occurences throughout their regular day-to-day activities. Community volunteers will be recruited from various districts of Fort McMurray which include: Abasand Heights, Beacon Hill, Dickensfield, Downtown Fort McMurray, Gregoire, Thickwood, Timberlea, Waterways and Wood Buffalo.

Residents selected for the community odour panel are trained to recognize and quantify the specific odour types that may exist in the Fort McMurray area. Volunteers are then trained to quantify the level of odours, and to report these observations. When community volunteers experience odours they are asked to record the odour through one of four methods: 1) Website; 2) Smart phone application; 3) prepaid response observation cards, or 4) a dedicated telephone reporting line.


WBEA will use the data collected to better understand the odour patterns impacting the community of Fort McMurray. Data gathered will also be used to inform the public and to address the odour concerns of local residents. Others can use the data to better understand which of their activities may be causing an odour problem, and how to best control odours.

WBEA will communicate project conclusions, and will continue to use existing odour measurement methods to share a wider picture of the state of odours in the region. A final report of each monitoring year will present the results of the collected data, major statistics, relations with community odour panel observations and conclusions gained from the monitoring project. Click to view 2013/14 Fort McMurray Community Odour Monitoring Project – Annual Report.

Project Administration

WBEA is managing the project and has contracted Odotech Inc. to do the work. Odotech has extensive experience in odour monitoring projects around the world. Please click to view the Odotech Community Odour Monitoring Project Website.


If you are interested in learning more, or would like to volunteer as a participant in WBEA’s Fort McMurray Community Odour Monitoring Project, please contact us at 780-799-4420, or at