IJERPH, Vol. 19, Pages 1296: VOCs and Odor Episodes near the German–Czech Border: Social Participation, Chemical Analyses and Health Risk Assessment (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
People living on both sides of the German–Czech border are subject to episodes of odor air pollution. A joint German–Czech air sampling and risk assessment project was established to identify the substances responsible and their sources. Twenty-four volunteer study participants, 14 from the NW Czech Republic and 10 from Germany (Saxony) reported odors and collected canister samples during sampling periods in winter 2017 and 2018 and autumn 2018. Canister samples and passive samplers were analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and passive samplers were analyzed for VOCs and carbonyls. OAVs (Odor Activity Values) and back trajectories were calculated with the aim of identifying the odor sources. Calculated OAVs were in excellent agreement with perceived smells close to an oil processing plant. Odorants identified in fifty canister samples during odor episodes and carbonyl measurements close to the edible oil processing plant were used for health evaluation. Odors reported by participants in Saxony frequently differed from those reported by participants in the Czech Republic. This suggests that certain sources of odor lying on either side of the border only affect that side and not the other with similar considerations regarding health effects. VOCs, including carbonyls, were also sampled at two relatively remote locations during winters of 2017 and 2018; two main sources of odorous compounds were identified at these sites. Analysis of samples taken at sampling sites shows that VOC air pollution and, to a lesser extent carbonyl pollution, originate from both industrial and local sources. Even though levels of sampled substances were not associated with acute effects at any site, long-term exposures to selected compounds could be cause for concern for carcinogenicity at some sites. Odors in Seiffen were associated with carcinogenic compounds in can samples. Although not necessarily representative of long-term exposures to the compounds studied, results such as these suggest that further study is needed to better quantify long-term exposure to potentially harmful compounds, and to either confirm or deny the existence of substantive health risk.