It’s Not the Odor, It’s the Ozone

Credit: LibreTexts.org

The burgeoning growth of cannabis farms in and around Carpinteria has led to one obvious problem: the skunk-like odor. Far worse is the potential damage to health from growing the plants.

First the odor issue. The odor reduction compound, now mandated by Santa Barbara County for cannabis growing, merely masks odor while adding more potentially harmful molecules into our air. These chemicals sold by the Byer company contain essential oils such as pine oil and detergents. Regulation is necessary, but the county board assumed, apparently without investigation, that these odor reduction devices would be beneficial.

Yes, odor is a problem. But odor is not the worst problem. The real stink beneath the odor is that the chemicals emanating from growing cannabis itself is dangerous.

I quote from a letter to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors from UCSB environmental scientist Dr. Patricia Holden:

“BVOCs (biogenic volatile organic compounds) are responsible for the noxious odors associated with Cannabis, but it is the BVOCs, not the odors per se, that have the potential to undermine human health and environmental quality. This is an important distinction, as the regulatory discourse in Santa Barbara County currently only regards “odors” when it is actually the emissions to the ambient environment of the odorous compounds — the Cannabis BVOCs whose smells simply confirm their presence at olfactory thresholds — that should be controlled to protect air quality and human health. Cannabis terpenes, like other biogenic terpenes, have the potential to be precursors of ground level ozone which is regarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a serious human health threat.”

The measures mandated by Santa Barbara County ignore the need to protect the public from the contaminating effects of the cannabis plants themselves. They just make things worse!

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