LONDON, ONT. -- Clearing the air in south London, or at least getting a better understanding of what's in that air, is the goal of an extensive air quality monitoring initiative set to get underway this summer.

"We have many companies in the area that have stacks and are putting their smell into the air. What is in that mix? What is it doing?”

Auto mechanic Allan Tipping received an outline detailing a three-year, $150,000 air monitoring program promising detailed analysis of compounds in the air and is encouraged they may get some answers.

"They're going to be placing air monitors around the area and those monitors are going to pick up certain compounds and meter them because those compounds are what causes odour.”

The testing is being funded by a consortium of companies in the area, which is a mix of industrial, commercial and residential properties.

The consortium is spearheaded by StormFisher Biogas, located on Green Valley Road, which has been distributing details of the testing.

Ontario Ministry of the Environment officials are providing oversight for the program.

Tipping both lives and works on his south London property. He and others in the area have spent a decade lobbying for a detailed air quality analysis, saying the odours have impacted quality of life for area residents with many a backyard barbeque having to be moved inside.

There are also underlying concerns about potential health impacts, with the focus on odours from the city's landfill, and on organic waste composting/recycling companies, StormFisher and Renewi.

Tipping worries there may be a cumulative effect when it comes to the various emissions.

"Everybody knows that when one compound gets in the air with another compound those molecules could get together and form a new compound. That's what we've been concerned about."

But the demand for organic waste processing continues to grow, with the City of London Budget Committee incorporating funding for a new green bin program in the new multi-year budget cycle.

Jay Stanford is Director of Environment, Fleet and Solid Waste for the city, and says, “What we see is a technical opportunity to learn more about air quality in south London.”

Stanford says city officials haven’t had a chance to review the monitoring program but they’re intrigued by its potential, “Specifically tied to facilities and operations in that area. And we look at this as good news and look forward to learning more and then eventually participating in initiatives such as this.”

Renewi has handled a wide range of compostable materials, including animal waste and human waste. The facility, under its previous name, Orgaworld, has already paid out over a million dollars in fines in relation to odour complaints.

Tipping admits it may be uncomfortable for people to contemplate, but he has concerns about the contents of human waste being processed.

“A lot of medications are in a lot of those diapers. They’re not just child diapers, they’re adult diapers. There’s a lot of medication that grandma and grandpa are taking.”