Mystery solved: Source of bad smell in Louisville found

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Officials with Louisville’s Metro Air Pollution Control District say they’ve identified the source of the bad odor that residents have been complaining about for a week.

The agency told news outlets a naturally occurring chemical in the soil called geosmin is to blame for a musty, mildew-like smell that has led to dozens of complaints.

Air district spokesman Tom Nord said the chemical has a low odor threshold and has been “exacerbated by the wet, muddy conditions in the wake of the recent snowfall and rain.”

Nord said the smell is not toxic and isn’t coming from industrial sites. He said the Louisville Water Company has dealt with geosmin previously and told the pollution control district that it might be to blame.

  • EricL

    the smell derives from an oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, whereupon it is absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. During rain, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin, a metabolic by-product of certain Actinobacteria, which is emitted by wet soil, producing the distinctive scent;

    • Unforgiven

      Eric… You are making “obscurechemist” blush a strange shade of purple shame ;-)

    • 370HSSV

      Not sure if true, but you sure make it sound legit! I’ll go with it.

  • Smoke_Monster

    KY smells funny

    • Offensive Fairy

      Well, not at first.

      • EricL

        When heated by friction… Or would that be fracking?

        • Offensive Fairy

          Hey, whatever you want to call it.

  • TML

    Those Louisville Sluggers.
    A gamey lot.

  • Magnolia_virginiana

    I read it as ‘geosemen’.

  • Explainer to Morons

    UK needs to cut out Burrito Monday at the dining hall, imo.

  • Badeye

    I know something else that has a, “musty, mildew-like smell”.

  • josephz2va

    Customers can add lemon juice and chill water with increased geosmin and MIB levels to improve the taste.



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