Why Odors Get Worse When Weather Warms

The science behind the stink of spring and summer.

As warm weather of spring and summer draw near, it seems like nasty odors are more common. It may be the waft of waste smells from a trash room or garbage area or the heightened odor from a building restroom or common space.

But what is the science behind the stink of spring and summer? Is it just noses being more sensitive or odors more stubborn?

Heat Provides the Escape

As the temperature outside increase, so does the amount of energy available for odor causing molecules. Odor causing molecules in the form of a liquid or solid, need extra energy to move into the gas phase. Temperature provides an increase in energy for liquids or solids to turn them into gases (more odor). The increase in temperature gives an increase in the vapor phase, resulting in more odor causing molecules in the air and an increase in the need to plug your nose.

Heat and Humidity Boost Smelly Bacteria

“Warmer temperatures cause odor-causing bacteria to grow faster resulting in an increase in the enzyme activity,” says Dr. Laura Haupert, Director of Research and Development at OMI Industries, manufacturer of Fresh Wave IAQ natural odor eliminators.

For many types of bacteria, summer temperatures are in their range of optimum growth temperatures. This allows for an increase in the growth of these bacteria’s and results in an increase in odor causing molecules.

“It’s known that humidity in the air traps odor causing molecules and causes them to not only travel farther, but also linger longer,” Dr. Haupert adds. This results in a noticeable bad smell.

The combination of heat and humidity could mean more odor complaints. It’s no surprise that the demand for commercial-strength odor control solutions also spikes in the middle months of the year.

The Nose Knows

In addition to odor-causing bacteria, odor receptors in the human nose also thrive in warmer environments. According to Dr. Pamela Dalton from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, cold reduces people’s ability to detect smells.

“When the air is warmed and humidified it is similar to what our body temperature would be, that is when the nose operates optimally,” says Dr. Dalton.

Odors Need a Natural Solution

As warmer months approach, it becomes more important to have a robust odor control plan. The team at Fresh Wave IAQ have developed natural, safe solutions using natural plant oils as the active ingredient to neutralize the worst smells – even in the harshest, hottest summer conditions.

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