Odour can have various health impacts:nuisance (possibly severe), disruption of behaviour and activities, and stress-related somatic health complaints. Nuisance is considered to be a health impact as defined by the WHO and the Health Council of the Netherlands.It is a feeling of aversion, anger, discomfort, dissatisfaction or annoyance that appears when an environmental aspect negatively influences someone’s thoughts, feelings or activities.

Odour nuisance may be accompanied by stress-related impacts on physical health, but it is unclear what these are. Research on the relationship between odour burden and complaints such as headache, shortness of breath and nausea has yielded inconsistent results.


Odour burden can also result in behaviour or activity being disturbed. The most common manifestations of disturbance are thought to be keeping windows closed, avoiding being outdoors, not inviting visitors and/or people being reluctant to visit, losing the ability to smell familiar/pleasant odours, breathing less deeply and submitting complaints.


Relationships with odour burden are known only for nuisance, not for health effects. The nuisance arising in the vicinity of livestock farms can be calculated. Many other factors in addition to the odour burden influence to some degree the extent of nuisance experienced. A low hedonistic value (unpleasant odour), a higher frequency, a problem-oriented coping style, a negative attitude vis-à-vis the source of the odour or the government, the expectation that the odour will intensify and fear or concern about the health impacts can result in nuisance being greater locally than the nuisance calculated on the basis of the general relationship between odour burden and nuisance.