Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 5-31-1987

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering - (M.S.)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Barbara B. Kebbekus

Second Advisor

R. P. T. Tomkins

Third Advisor

Gordon Lewandowski


Two specific applications for using canine olfaction as a means of detecting hazardous substances have been recognized: detection of residual contamination on hazardous waste cleanup equipment (DECON), and detection of leaking underground gasoline tanks (LUST).

With the DECON project, the dog's ability to detect low emissions of some common hazardous compounds was tested. As a safe and effective training tool for presenting hazardous compounds to the dog, permeation tubes filled with m-xylene or 1,1,1-trichloroethane were constructed and calibrated. Hidden tubes emitting as low as 0.5 µg/min were consistently detected by the dogs. During olfactory field tests, "hot spots" of m-xylene contaminated mud with emission rates as low as 0.19 µg/min were detected on pieces of waste site cleanup equipment.

In order for a dog to accurately identify vapors emitting from leaking underground gasoline tanks, it must be trained to discriminate between tank leak vapors and spilled gasoline vapors. Chromatographic analysis of aged and water-washed gasoline identified a general decrease in the more volatile compounds, and an increase in the heavier compound vapor concentrations with time. However, the more volatile compounds predominate in gasoline vapors rising through a water saturated soil column. The use of canine olfaction in detecting leaking gasoline tank vapors appears to depend upon dog's ability to discriminate between mixtures. Other ways of using canine olfaction as a means of detecting underground tanks are suggested.



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