Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Publications

Campus Units

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Toxicology

Document Type


Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association





First Page


Last Page


Research Focus Area(s)

Animal Production Systems Engineering




Livestock operations are associated with emissions of odor, gases, and particulate matter (PM). Livestock odor characterization is one of the most challenging analytical tasks. This is because odor-causing gases are often present at very low concentrations in a complex matrix of less important or irrelevant gases. The objective of this project was to develop a set of characteristic reference odors from a swine barn in Iowa and, in the process, identify compounds causing characteristic swine odor. Odor samples were collected using a novel sampling methodology consisting of clean steel plates exposed inside and around the swine barn for ≤1 week. Steel plates were then transported to the laboratory and stored in clean jars. Head-space solid-phase microextraction was used to extract characteristic odorants collected on the plates. All of the analyses were conducted on a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-olfactometry system where the human nose is used as a detector simultaneously with chemical analysis via mass spectrometry. Multidimensional chromatography was used to isolate and identify chemicals with high-characteristic swine odor. The effects of sampling time, distance from a source, and the presence of PM on the abundance of specific gases, odor intensity, and odor character were tested. Steel plates were effectively able to collect key volatile compounds and odorants. The abundance of specific gases and odor was amplified when plates collected PM. The results of this research indicate that PM is major carrier of odor and several key swine odorants. Three odor panelists were consistent in identifying p-cresol as closely resembling characteristic swine odor, as well as attributing to p-cresol the largest odor response out of the samples. Further research is warranted to determine how the control of PM emissions from swine housing could affect odor emissions.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis as Bulliner IV, Edward A., Jacek A. Koziel, Lingshuang Cai, and Donald Wright. "Characterization of livestock odors using steel plates, solid-phase microextraction, and multidimensional gas chromatography–mass spectrometry–olfactometry." Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association 56, no. 10 (2006): 1391-1403. DOI: 10.1080/10473289.2006.10464547. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

Air & Waste Management Association



File Format


Published Version