Dust and odour suppression: How to achieve the sweet smell of success

Written by: RWW | Published:

As pollution controls continue to tighten, the companies that tackle odour and dust are enjoying a period of growth; especially as these by-products of processes, ranging from sewage treatment to food factory production, are no longer tolerated by the public - or the statute books. Victoria Madine reports

A highly specialised industry with a focus on innovation, companies like Probe Industries, APPS and Mist-Air Environmental are among those demonstrating that Britain’s technological know-how in odour and dust control is in growing global demand. 

Probe Industries

“At home and abroad this market is growing,” says Victoria Browning, managing director of Probe Industries. “Not only are regulations tightening, they are being better enforced.”

The Northumberland-based firm is reported to have enjoyed steady growth since its launch in 1995 and last year launched Probe America in the United States to further underpin its international operations that extend from Belgium to Australia. Browning says the company’s success has been fuelled by a commitment to innovation, made possible by a dedicated research and development team.

Probe Industries’ top selling product is AiroPure which can be applied directly into, or on to, odour sources, or mixed with water and sprayed. Its formula includes odour destructive reagents that combine with odour molecules to destroy them. 

The liquid is said to eliminate a wide spectrum of offensive odours including hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, organic sulphur and nitrogen compounds. A non-hazardous and biodegradable product, AiroPure has domestic applications as well as commercial.

According to Browning; “The odour neutralising benefits of AiroPure are immediate. Many other agents will mask malodours with scents such as mint or lemon, but it’s usually just a temporary measure that can quickly lose effectiveness. AiroPure not only counteracts odour, but does so permanently.”

According to Browning, the UK is so far ahead in its development of odour and dust suppression products that the company ’took a step back’ to launch in the US. She explains: “Other markets are not as developed as the UK’s and the US is no exception - we haven’t launched our latest products there because the market isn’t ready. This means we have a store of products to introduce in the future as the American market develops.” 

Browning adds: “But there will be no resting on our laurels. Innovation will be key to our overseas expansion.”

Air Pollution Products and Systems (APPS)

Peterborough-based APPS has also expanded into the States, as well as running an operation in Spain. Philip Hutchings, environmental consultant at the firm, agrees that the odour and dust suppression market is set for continuous expansion both at home and overseas. 

He explains: “We’re moving towards a position where odour and dust are increasingly perceived as air pollutants by governments. In the States, if an odour can be said to affect people’s quality of life, it’s considered a health issue which companies have to address to avoid litigation.” 

In the UK, according to Hutchings, the industry is more driven by public opinion and the threat of complaints, along with a tight legal framework. Rapid growth in the UK’s bio-waste processing sector has also helped drive demand for air cleansing products because the sites create potentially damaging emissions. 

Developers need to be able to demonstrate at the planning stage that these issues will be effectively managed or the appropriate licences are, according to Hutchings, unlikely to be granted.

Local authorities have teeth when it comes to addressing the problems - and potential for public complaint - arising from odours and dust. For starters, there are the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA). 

Similarly, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 advises in Policy Statement 23, which covers planning and pollution control, that local authorities should take account of the impacts that a new development will have on the quality of air. 

“Demonstrating strategies for improving air quality are essential for planning,” says Hutchings.

APPS offers a range of odour and dust suppression products with its biodegradable absorption system Airborne 10 picking up a number of accolades. Awarded Millennium Product status by the Design Council, the system is reported to exceed the sustainability requirements of EU’s Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive. 

The Airborne 10 uses surfactant induced absorption technology (SIAT) to boost the solubility of water by around 500,000% so it can absorb odours and dust and deposit them on the ground to biodegrade safely. “Airborne 10 is a factor 10 technology which means it uses a tenth of the environmental and financial resources, compared to other conventional technologies,” explains Hutchings.

The applications for odour and dust suppression technology are endless. 

APPS’ clients range from mobile oil rigs, where the removal of dangerous gases such as hydrogen sulfide is critical, to chicken farms where the removal of ammonia improves the environment for workers and the health of the chickens.  

Mist-Air Environmental

With a distribution network that extends across Europe, in addition to Australasia, Shropshire based Mist-Air Environmental is another international player. Unlike Probe Industries and APPS, Mist-Air uses a dry fog system to prevent dust and odours from becoming airborne in the first place.

Mike Carter, managing director at Mist-Air, argues that the system has advantages over those that rely on water for dispersal: “Not only is this a far simpler and more effective method of dust control, it is also far less expensive to install, run and maintain, and can be simply retrofitted to any size building or area in a few hours.” 

He says: “The ultra fine dry fog is blown towards the dust by silent fans installed on the roof girders, clear of working machinery and vehicles. Low water and power usage keep running costs extremely low.”

According to Carter, the market for Mist-Air’s dry fog systems ‘can only expand’. In addition to working with a spectrum of private companies, the company also works with a growing number of insurance companies. 

He recalls: “We recently fitted a factory with a dust suppressant system - the insurer wanted to reduce the risk of fire or explosion, which can be a serious threat in some buildings, for example, biomass units. These sites can potentially have a high level of wood dust, which is, of course, highly flammable.”

As Carter points out, dust suppression can, depending on the application involved, have health benefits too by stopping potentially hazardous particulate matter (PMs) like silica, whose tiny size make them exceptionally challenging to manage. 

“Stopping complaints from neighbours concerning dust, and conforming to Environment Agency and EU legislation are critical management concerns,” says Carter. 

“But the single most important point about Mist-Air dust suppression is that it prevents employees and customers breathing ultra fine dust particles which may contain, silica and asbestos fibres.”

Carter, APPS’ Hutchings and Probe Industries’ Browning all agree that the market for odour and dust suppressants will continue to be buoyant as more and more industries come under public and governmental pressure to reduce their impact on the environment. 

The consensus is clear that the UK’s innovative approach to product development in this arena will place these specialised suppliers at the forefront of the campaign to improve air quality; a topic which is gathering momentum across the globe.


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