City of Jacksonville installs sensors to figure out source of terrible smells around town

Devices installed in neighborhoods around city designed to determine who, what is responsible for foul odors

The city of Jacksonville has a new tool to help figure out what's behind a terrible smell people have reported in parts of the city.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The city of Jacksonville has a new tool to help figure out what’s behind a terrible smell people have reported in parts of the city.

It is something News4JAX has been investigating for years.

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Crews installed several new devices to detect odors.

“We want to be able to hopefully solve this problem all at once,” said Melissa Long, who is Jacksonville’s Environmental Quality Division chief.

The first Envirosuite sensor was installed Thursday in Boone Park.

The city plans to install the devices in different neighborhoods. They hope to figure out where the smells are coming from, and who or what is responsible.

Odor sensor project equipment (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

“We have, at least based on the complaints, belief that some of the odors may be coming from pining and styrene in the area,” Long said. “But we don’t know what we don’t know. That’s what the sensors are going to be able to do to help us see if there is an unknown source or maybe there are a couple of other sources masking others.”

There will be 13 of these sensors as part of this research and two weather stations because the wind direction is a part of the study.

Odor sensor locations (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Long said the focus is on the Urban Core because that’s where most of the manufacturing is as well as complaints from residents.

“It will be detecting hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and volatile organic carbons,” Long said. “The chemicals that create quite a bit of odor and sensitivity for people generally we believe are the VOCs.”

Over the last two years, the city received 2,869 complaints of terrible smells and the complaints started picking up in the summer of 2020, said Long.

Environmental specialists will be able to verify if one of the sensors picks up a reading of a chemical and they can move them to different locations, if necessary.

“Even when the study starts, we want the citizens to continue to let us know when there is an objectionable odor to finally get rid of those smells,” said Long.

Data collected by the sensors will be part of a year-long study. You can also let the city know if you smell something foul in your neighborhood by calling 904-630-CITY (2489) or emailing

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