OdourCollect and D-NOSES: Citizen Science to foster environmental governance and tackle odour pollution

FundaciĆ³n Ibercivis (ES), Science For Change (ES)

Human noses can detect trillions of smells, making them the best tool for odour detection. However, prolonged exposure to bad smells can turn this marvel into a nightmare. The WHO recognizes the impact of odour pollution on our health, accounting for 30% of environmental complaints overall. But odours are difficult to measure, and the lack of regulations translates into scarce data and unprotected citizens. 

The D-NOSES project addressed this gap by developing a citizen science methodology to monitor odour pollution, validated through 10 case studies in Europe, Chile and Uganda, using OdourCollect for data collection. This collaborative work involved public administrations, industries, researchers and citizens, who worked closely to co-design solutions to reduce related impacts. The more than 13.800 odour observations collected by +2.630 citizens in 5 continents are openly available at https://odourcollect.eu/map.  

Thanks to this huge amount of data, D-NOSES and OdourCollect have been able to inform public policies at different levels. At European level, D-NOSES organized the event  “Revisiting odour pollution in Europe” in the EU Parliament to call for a common regulatory framework and for the recognition of odour as an environmental pollutant. As a direct consequence, the CoR requested an amendment to the “EU Action Plan: Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil” to incorporate citizen science to monitor odour pollution. 

At a Spanish level, the validation of the methodology resulted in the publication of the Spanish standard UNE 77270:2023 “Building collaborative odour maps through citizen science”, the first of its kind 

OdourCollect continues to empower citizens to tackle odour pollution and encourages policymakers to take action, by providing reliable data to formulate evidence-informed public policies. Most importantly: they made visible the invisible, by putting all types of smells in the map, thanks to citizen science. OdourCollect has also developed scientific educational projects, workshops and activities at schools, libraries or Museums, creating artistic experiences focused on smells as a source of inspiration. 


OdourCollect was originally funded in 2016 by the MyGeoss project (JRC). D-NOSES (2018-2021) received funding from the EU's H2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 789315). OdourCollect received funding from the Neotec programme (2022-2024), from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. It also received the Prismas award in the category of singular project (Science Museums in Coruña) in 2021. The team acknowledges and expresses their gratitude to all citizens that actively participate reporting odour observations in OdourCollect throughout the years.

Science For Change (ES) is a knowledge-based social enterprise that promotes collaborative research, evidence-informed public policies and quality science communication based in Barcelona. Currently, we are participating in more than 15 European, national and regional research and innovation projects, collaborating with more than 100 institutions throughout the world in more than 30 countries. Our interdisciplinary team is composed of more than 20 researchers, including the social sciences and humanities and the arts. 

At Science For Change we address social, environmental and health challenges through citizen science, participatory strategies and co-creation. We facilitate collaborative research between different agents to co-design solutions to complex societal challenges that concern citizens and contribute to evidence-informed public policies, pushing for social innovations and positive changes to improve society. 

Fundación Ibercivis (ES) is a private non-profit Spanish foundation whose objectives are to carry out, promote and make citizen science visible. In order to achieve its objectives, and in collaboration with various scientific and social agents, the Ibercivis Foundation: - Carries out and promotes research in many different areas of scientific knowledge at local, national and international levels. - It provides technical support, dissemination and training so that anyone can participate in scientific research, according to their interests and always dynamic capabilities. We share resources and experience derived from our own citizen science activity. We conduct our own research by developing our own citizen science projects in which we theorise, prototype, model, evaluate impact, measure, develop technology and publish results. We promote the dissemination of the concept of "citizen science" through the development of the projects and through local, national and international events, exhibitions, publications, reports, awards, training and other activities. 

Rosa Arias (ES) is a Chemical Engineer with extensive experience in odour pollution management and citizen science. She is the creator of the OdourCollect App and was the coordinator of the H2020 D-NOSES project (among others), which validated a new citizen methodology to monitor odour pollution that led to the creation of the Spanish technical standard UNE 77270:2023. To exploit the project results, she founded Science for Change, a knowledge-based social enterprise where innovative services based on citizen science, collaborative research, science communication, science to policy and co-creation for social innovation are developed. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the European Citizen Science Association.

D-NOSES addresses the overlooked issue of odour pollution in environmental policy. It engages 5,000 citizens from affected communities in 10 pilots across Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, UK, Germany Bulgaria, Chile and Uganda to monitor odour pollution with the OdourCollect app, centring citizens’ perceptions of the problem and collecting open access data. Fostering collaboration between citizens, odour-emitting industries, environmental authorities, and academia, the project produces new scientific knowledge on the issue and proposes policy solutions at national and transnational levels within Europe, demonstrating the effectiveness of citizen science in addressing environmental challenges.