Odor Investigations: A Tough Call

Issue 5 and Volume 163.

BY FRANK C. MONTAGNA People call us when they smell an unusual odor in their homes or businesses. It can be a chemical odor, an electrical odor, an odor of smoke, a wood odor, or just a bad odor. Usually the source of the odor turns out to be nonhazardous, but often enough the source of the odor can pose a hazard. Frequently, the source of the odor, hazardous or not, isn’t obvious to us. These calls necessitate that we perform an investigation, discover the source of the odor, eliminate that source, and vent the area, leaving the occupants safe. Although this may seem like a simple task, sometimes it is not so simple. Because we have responded to many of these “odor calls,” we readily recognize a number of different odors, and this enables us to quickly locate the source of some odors. Firefighters, for instance, easily recognize the…

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