Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Energy and Environment Cabinet

Fall Skyline photographed by Roberta Burnes

Division for Air Quality

Kentucky has an odor standard that is identified in 401 KAR 53:010.  This standard applies only to outdoor or ambient air.  For information on indoor air quality, click here.
Tips on making an odor complaint
Odor complaints should be made as soon as possible after detecting a strong odor. Call our complaints line at 502-782-6592. If your call is directed to voicemail, please leave a message with as much information as possible about your complaint and a contact number if you wish for someone to call you back. Messages are checked frequently and you can be assured your complaint will be investigated.
What information does the division need to act on my complaint?
  • Address or location of the alleged source including street or intersection, city, and county
  • Name of alleged source (if available)
  • A description of the problem
  • The time when you first observed the problem

Be prepared to describe the odor in detail. Does it smell like something familiar such as rotten eggs, rotten cabbage, nail polish, burning plastic or asphalt?  Is it light or heavy, oily or metallic? Does the odor occur at certain times of the day, or is it constant?  
How are odor complaints investigated?

When an odor complaint is received, DAQ staff will visit the site of the reported odor to investigate.  An inspector will sample the air using a device known as a “nasal ranger” or “scentometer.”   These devices mix one volume unit of ambient air with 7 volume units of odorless (filtered) air.  The resulting mixture must have no detectable odor in order to comply with the regulation. If an inspector detects an odor using one of these devices at a 7-to-1 dilution, a violation of the odor standard is documented.
If an odor violation is documented, the inspector will work with the responsible party to correct the problem.
Strong and steady odors are often required to document a violation of the Kentucky odor standard. Many odors not rising to the level of a violation are, nevertheless, corrected through cooperative efforts between the inspector and responsible party.