JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Progress is being made on tracking down the source of a chemical-like odor in Jacksonville.
This week, odor monitoring devices are being installed as part of a city-funded study by environmental consultant company Envirosuite to find the source of a 'noxious' odor neighbors have complained about for years. The first device went up in Boone Park in Avondale Thursday morning.
This is a big update on an investigation First Coast News has been following for a year and a half.
The city of Jacksonville's Environmental Quality Division Chief Melissa Long says they're installing 13 devices in areas they get a high number of odor complaints from and where the wind is likely to take the odor. She says they'll be in neighborhoods and near facilities that could be emitting the odor.
The devices have three sensors inside the top "e-nose" that is installed on a telephone pole. Under that is a solar panel and beneath that, a box with a data logger that sends data to Envirosuite's software.
Long says they're specifically interested in tracking volatile organic compounds, styrene and pinene.
"The one that we're most interested in is the volatile organic carbons," Long said. "It's a VOC monitor, it'll tell us if it's detecting any kind of chemical that would create an odor."
She says the odor could also be something they haven't considered yet.
"It could be something completely different," Long said. "The pinene smells very similar to Pine Sol and that's the complaint we hear most. So we do think part of it at least is from that, but it could be something else and that's what we think the sensors might help us with."
The study starts in March and will run for 12 months. The city is getting quarterly reports and Long says they'll be able to get data as soon as it begins.
The city has received 146 odor complaints this year and, 1269 odor complaints since Aug. 1.
Long says it's important to continue to report the odor to the city.
"Whatever it takes, please let us know because this will help us sync this information together with the study so it's even more useful than it was a year ago," she said.
When the city greenlit the $125,000 Envirosuite study, residents who often dealt with the odor called it a "turning point."
Watch First Coast News' investigation into the odor here, which includes lawsuits and finger-pointing at companies.