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Cannabis Odor Mitigation: Some NJ Cultivators Learning the Hard Way in Fast-Emerging Industry

As a populous state that’s long been at the forefront of industry and agriculture and where air pollution and odor emissions are heavily regulated, New Jersey manufacturers, refineries, and other industries have a wealth of experience when it comes to controlling odors via various technologies and practices, and these odors generally occur in mostly-industrial areas.

But now, with large indoor cannabis grow operations taking over repurposed buildings adjacent to residential neighborhoods, some communities are having to contend with offensive odors emanating from facilities that weren’t properly equipped to handle them. By necessity, local governing authorities are adopting increasingly-stringent ordinances for cultivation facilities, and most municipalities are requiring cultivators to submit and execute odor mitigation plans for approval to operate.

Cannabis odors, often described as pungent or “skunky”, are largely attributed to a class of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) called terpenes. There are a number of odor mitigation technologies that have proven quite effective where indoor cannabis cultivation has been legally permitted for some time, and efficacy can often be improved when systems are used in tandem. The first line of defense in controlling odor emissions – no matter the industry – is having a sealed building with a well-designed HVAC system that can maintain negative pressure in designated spaces to force air through carbon filters before it can exit the building. Carbon filtration is the cannabis industry standard and is widely believed to be the best option for mitigating odors. At discharge, high-plume exhaust systems can be used to send the carbon-filtered air through high-velocity nozzles, propelling remaining odors high into the atmosphere where they are dispersed on wind currents. Another effective solution is

bipolar ionization, which, in addition to neutralizing cannabis odors, can also help reduce mold growth and bacteria. Other emerging technologies currently being tested in the industry include mineral filters, biofilters, and carbon scrubbing.

For more information on these and other cannabis odor mitigation strategies, please contact MSC at 973-884-5000.


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