Odor Hazards

Odor Hazards

The sense of smell is a reaction to a certain level (stimulus threshold) of volatile particles in the air.

Above a certain level, odor is a serious environmental nuisance and its consequences are reflected mainly in residential and commercial areas, but also within workers in industrial plants. Exposure to odor hazards creates discomfort and can also cause health damage. Sources of odor hazards are diverse and numerous: materials emitted by air from industrial processes, wastewater treatment plants, waste disposal sites, agricultural activities and more. Provisions regarding odor hazards are found, inter alia, in the Hazardous Prevention Act, 1961 and regulations issued thereunder, such as the Hazardous Prevention Regulations (Prevention of Air Pollution and Odor from Waste Sites), the Public Health Ordinance, 1940 and in the Environmental Hazards Prevention Law (Civil Claims).

There is a prominent legal element of uncertainty in determining what is considered "strong or unreasonable odor" and how to define its potency ("There is no arguing about taste and smell"). This component is the result of, among other things, the lack of applicable technology for quantitative measurement of odors of various kinds. This uncertainty explains the lack of clear legislative provisions in this regard due to the difficulty in framing legislative policies. There are countries in the world that have  standards set to partially address the odor nuisance (such as in Japan and some U.S. states). These countries have restrictions on certain substances known as odorants and their concentrations (such as ammonia, styrene, various acids). Other countries impose conditions that will allow sufficient oxygenation to prevent odor.

 Some countries have enacted a "smelling team" status.

Smelling team is also used in Israel. This is a group of people who have undergone a series of simple tests that probably cannot always give a clear answer to their odor intensity and possible sources. The ability of the human nose, which is extremely difficult to find a technological substitute, is at a disadvantage against a calibrated device that can provide comparable and normalized findings. In any case, the smelling team in Israel does not have a binding legal status, and at most, its findings can be brought as evidence, as any other evidence (a judge's visit, neighbor complaints, etc.).The odor team is supposed to describe the odor intensity verbally as: "No odor, weak odor, medium odor, strong odor, very strong odor, unbearable odor."

The complexity of the odor issue in the technological sphere is also reflected in the legal sphere. Our firm's lawyers are experienced in the legal treatment of odor nuisances. We can assist you, from the characterization of the problem and its origins, through the preparation of expert opinion that can be properly and intelligently used in the courts and, of course, the best representation in the courts, in civil proceedings such as class actions, administrative proceedings, indictments and criminal complaints.