Qualitative Exploration of the ‘Rolling Unmasking Effect’ for Downwind Odor Dispersion from a Model Animal Source

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Wright, Donald W.
Parker, David B.
Iwasinska, Anna
Hartman, Thomas G.
Kolvig, Paula
Wahe, Landon
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Food Science and Human Nutrition

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) at Iowa State University is jointly administered by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Human Science. FSHN combines the study and practical application of food sciences and technology with human nutrition in preparation for a variety of fields including: the culinary sciences, dietetics, nutrition, food industries, and diet and exercise.

The department was established in 1991 through the merging of the Department of Food Sciences and Technology (of the College of Agriculture), and the Department of Food and Nutrition (of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences).

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Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringCivil, Construction and Environmental EngineeringFood Science and Human Nutrition
Solving environmental odor issues can be confounded by many analytical, technological, and socioeconomic factors. Considerable know-how and technologies can fail to properly identify odorants responsible for the downwind nuisance odor and, thereby, focus on odor mitigation strategies. We propose enabling solutions to environmental odor issues utilizing troubleshooting techniques developed for the food, beverage, and consumer products industries. Our research has shown that the odorant impact-priority ranking process can be definable and relatively simple. The initial challenge is the prioritization of environmental odor character from the perspective of the impacted citizenry downwind. In this research, we utilize a natural model from the animal world to illustrate the rolling unmasking effect (RUE) and discuss it more systematically in the context of the proposed environmental odorant prioritization process. Regardless of the size and reach of an odor source, a simplification of odor character and composition typically develops with increasing dilution downwind. An extreme odor simplification-upon-dilution was demonstrated for the prehensile-tailed porcupine (P.T. porcupine); its downwind odor frontal boundary was dominated by a pair of extremely potent character-defining odorants: (1) ‘onion’/‘body odor’ and (2) ‘onion’/‘grilled’ odorants. In contrast with the outer-boundary simplicity, the near-source assessment presented considerable compositional complexity and composite odor character difference. The ultimate significance of the proposed RUE approach is the illustration of naturally occurring phenomena that explain why some environmental odors and their sources can be challenging to identify and mitigate using an analytical-only approach (focused on compound identities and concentrations). These approaches rarely move beyond comprehensive lists of volatile compounds emitted by the source. The novelty proposed herein lies in identification of those few compounds responsible for the downwind odor impacts and requiring mitigation focus.
This article is published as Wright, Donald W., Jacek A. Koziel, David B. Parker, Anna Iwasinska, Thomas G. Hartman, Paula Kolvig, and Landon Wahe. "Qualitative Exploration of the ‘Rolling Unmasking Effect’ for Downwind Odor Dispersion from a Model Animal Source." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 24 (2021): 13085. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph182413085. Copyright 2021 by the authors. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). Posted with permission.