The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District (APCD) is tasked with regulating sources of odor in Louisville through District Regulation 1.13. Odor-related responsibilities of the APCD include investigating resident reports of odors and mitigating odors from industrial and community sources through enforcing Regulation 1.13.
Public involvement is an essential part of APCD's work to limit nuisance odors throughout the city. Detailed and prompt reporting of odors helps APCD staff investigate and proactively monitor for odor issues.
How to Report Odors
If you feel an odor is affecting your immediate health and safety, call 911. If an odor is an annoyance or nuisance, report it to the APCD.
What to include in your report:
- Where you first detected it, the date and time it was detected, and how long it lasted.
- Any characteristics, such as chemical, sewer, flowery, burnt, strong, mild, or obnoxious.
Ways to report:
- Call the APCD at (502) 574-6000, or
- Fill out our online odor reporting form, or
- Submit a complaint online through Metro311, or
- Download the Smell My City app to your smartphone. (Smell My City is operated by a third party, but odor reports are directed to Louisville Metro Government.), or
- Report sewer odors to MSD through this form or at (502) 540-6000. MSD staff can investigate and address these reports directly.
You may also want to keep notes of your observations so they can be referenced in the future. An odor log is an easy way to track recurring odors.
Resident reports help APCD Compliance Officers (COs) investigate, address, and proactively monitor for odors.
Once a report from a resident is received, COs attempt to locate the odor and conduct a thorough investigation of the surrounding area to identify characteristics, strength of odor, source, and options to address the odor. COs are knowledgeable of local sources, scents associated with certain processes and occurrences, and wind/weather patterns. All this information is recorded in an investigation report, used along with resident reports to help determine if corrective action is needed.
Common Sources of Odor & Health Concerns
Common sources in Louisville include open burning, sewers, and industrial sources, such as Rubbertown facilities, notably also including the state’s largest wastewater treatment facility in west Louisville and a meat processing facility in Butchertown. Many of the substances emitted from these sources can cause a nuisance odor at far lower concentrations than it would take to cause an immediate health impact.
Odors can be caused by unplanned emissions from industrial sources. District Regulation 1.07 establishes notification, reporting, and operating requirements for industrial sources when these events occur. While APCD is not a first responder, Louisville Metro has personnel in departments like the Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Louisville Fire Department, and the Department of Public Health & Wellness (LMPHW) who are tasked with responding to emergency events and have the proper training, experience, and equipment to do so. There are systems in place, like LENSAlert, to notify the public in case of an emergency and provide guidance.
The local Risk Management Plan (RMP) program, administered by the APCD and the EMA, improves the safety of the community by requiring facilities that use or store more than a specified amount of flammable or extremely hazardous chemicals to develop a risk management plan. The local program is more protective than the federal program by, among other things, requiring facilities to contract with an independent third party to perform a compliance audit and to apply safer technology and alternatives analysis (STAA) for new projects.
APCD issued Agreed Board Order 21-01 with the Metro Sewer District (MSD) in February 2021 to address violations due to odors from the Morris Forman Water Quality Treatment center, the sewer collection system, and select pump stations. The Notice of Violation and Agreed Board Order can be found on the APCD Enforcement Dashboard. This agreement required MSD to, among other things:
- Develop a county-wide Odor Control Master Plan
- Develop an odor communications plan
- Clean and provide maintenance to all of the catch basins within its collection system by the end of 2022 and focus specifically on repairing 109 untrapped catch basins in the Park Duvalle neighborhood, providing an annual report to the APCD until they can do so.
More information, including how to identify sewer odors, where they come from, sewer odor control strategies and technology, and a variety of related technical information can be found on the MSD Odor website page.
Residents are encouraged to continue to report sewer odors as these structural issues are addressed. If you believe the odor is coming from the sewer, you can contact tMSD directly at (502) 540-6000 or through this sewer odor reporting form.
Odor Service Request Dashboard
This dashboard contains a map and graphs that visualize Air Pollution Control District odor service requests, which are digital records of investigations taken by the District in response to an odor or odor report from a Louisville resident.