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Frequently Asked Questions – De-icing Operations

  1. Why do airplanes need de-icing?
  2. The application of de-icing fluid ensures aircraft are suitable for safe operation during the winter months and prevents accumulation of snow and ice on aircraft surfaces. The critical flight surfaces on an aircraft need to be clean and free of contaminants in preparation for take-off.

  3. What is that odour?
  4. The holding ponds at Hamilton International have low concentrations of glycol and during biodegradation can create an odour. Depending on current weather conditions such as wind direction and velocity, air temperature and density, the location of odour may vary.

  5. Are glycol odours harmful?
  6. Propylene glycol (PG) is considered a relatively non-toxic substance to mammals. PG products are biodegradable and do not bioaccumulate in the environment. PG can also be found in some foods, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

  7. Why can I smell odours in the spring / summer?
  8. Residual low concentrations of glycol remain in the pond after the winter season and will biodegrade over time, causing potential odours during biodegradation periods in the spring and summer.

  9. Could I smell these odours in my home?
  10. Prolonged periods of keeping windows open can lead to increased odours in the home. If you can smell odours from the residential sanitary sewer line in your home, it is a good indicator that private plumbing deficiencies may exist and other more serious gasses from the sanitary system are entering the home. A local plumber can assess your plumbing system and make recommendations on how to remedy any deficiencies.

  11. Are these odours coming from Hamilton International?
  12. Odours from degradation of glycol can occur year-round depending on certain weather conditions, and therefore odours may be apparent indoors and outdoors in the vicinity of the Airport. Odours may arise when the holding ponds are drained either through the creeks or through the sanitary system. Indoor odours could mean a home has private plumbing connection deficiencies to the sanitary sewer line.

  13. What is Hamilton International doing about odours in the area?
  14. Hamilton International is engaged in a study to determine best practices for glycol mitigation as well as continues to monitor the pond levels through composition testing.  Hamilton International continues to work diligently to identify and implement new technologies to control and minimize odours through our glycol management program.

For odour inquiries please contact the Airport Operations Center at 905-679-4908 or


June 14th, 2019 - National Trade Corridor Funding Announced for Hamilton International Airport

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