PTR-MS (Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometry) is an innovative technique that allows the rapid detection of most volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with high sensitivity (sub-ppb) and by direct injection. We describe here the possible use of PTR-MS in waste managements and composting plants both for the real time monitoring of volatile emissions and, after calibration with olfactometric assessments, for the instrumental determination of odour concentration. Beside a short description of the technique, we will report on the calibration of PTR-MS data with olfactometric assessment of odour concentration showing the possibility of a relatively good estimation of odour concentration by instrumental data. We will also show how the rapid PTR-MS fingerprint can be used to visualise the overall effect of a biofilter on the VOCs concentration and to calculate the reduction of the concentration of single masses and, finally, we will provide examples of the performances of a new implementation of this technique based on a time of flight (TOF) analyser. Instead of the usual quadrupole mass filter, the TOF provides an increase of analytical information and the possibility to separate important compounds that in the quadrupole version were not or only indirectly quantifiable. In conclusion we suggest that PTR-MS analysis can be a valuable tool for the rapid and on site monitoring of odour emission and plant operation.

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