INDOOR AIR QUALITY UK

 

 

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IAQUK Resources - Odour

Detection and Thresholds

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Odour characteristics and detection threshold levels

 

Odour Detection

This is a qualitative attribute which is expressed in terms of “descriptors”, e.g. “fruity”, “almond”, “fishy”. This can be of use when establishing an odour source from complainants’ descriptions. Alternatively, it may be possible to identify key chemical components by a description of their specific odour.

 

Odour Threshold

The “amount” of odour present in a sample of air. It can be expressed in terms of ppm, ppb or in mg/mof air for a single odorous compound. More usually a mixture of compounds are present and the concentration of the mixture can be expressed in odour units per cubic metre (ouE).

Substance

Odour

Substance

Odour

 

Acetaldehyde

Apple, stimulant

Dimethyl

sulphide

 

Rotten vegetable

Acetic acid

Sour vinegar

Diphenylamine

Floral

 

Acetone

Chemical/sweetish/solvent

Diphenyl sulphide

 

Burnt rubber

Acetonitrile

Ethereal

Ethanol

Pleasant, sweet

 

Acrylaldehyde

Burning fat

Ethyl acetate

Fragrant

 

Acrolein

Burnt sweet, pungent

Ethyl acrylate

Hot plastic, earthy

 

Acrylonitrile

Onion, garlic, pungent

Ethylbenzene

Aromatic

 

Aldehydes C9

Floral, waxy

Ethyl mercaptan

Garlic/onion, sewer, decayed

cabbage, earthy

 

Aldehydes C10

Orange peel

Formaldehyde

Disinfectant, hay/straw-like, pungent

 

Allyl alcohol

Pungent, mustard like

Furfuryl alcohol

Ethereal

 

 

Allyl chloride

Garlic onion pungent

n-Hexane

Solvent

 

Amines

Fishy, pungent

Hydrogen sulphide

Rotten eggs

 

 

Ammonia

Sharp, pungent odour

Indole

Excreta

 

Aniline

Pungent

Iodoform

Antiseptic

 

Benzene

Solvent

Methanol

Medicinal, sweet

 

Benzaldehyde

Bitter almonds

Methyl ethyl ketone

 

Sweet

 

 

Benzyl acetate

Floral (jasmine), fruity

Methyl isobutyl ketone

Sweet

 

 

 

 

Benzyl chloride

Solvent

Methyl mercaptan

 

Skunk, sewer, rotten cabbage

 

 

Bromine

Bleach, pungent

Methyl methacrylate

 

Pungent, sulphide like

 

 

Sec-Butyl acetate

Fruity

Methyl sulphide

 

Decayed vegetables

 

 

Butyric acid

Sweat, body odour

Naphthalene

Moth balls

 

Camphor

Medicinal

Nitrobenzene

Bitter almonds

 

Caprylic acid

Animal like

Phenol

Sweet, tarry odour, carbolic acid

 

Carbon disulphide

Rotten vegetable

Pinenes

Resinous, woody, pine-like

 

 

Chlorine

Irritating, bleach, pungent

Propyl mercaptan

Skunk

 

 

Chlorobenzene

Moth balls

Putrescine

Decaying flesh

 

2-Chloroethanol

Faint, ethereal

Pyridine

Nauseating, burnt

 

Chloroform

Sweet

Skatole

Excreta, faecal odour

 

Chlorophenol

Medicinal

Styrene

Penetrating, rubbery, pla

stic

p-Cresol

Tar-like, pungent

Sulphur dioxide

 

Pungent, irritating odour

Cyclohexane

Sweetish when pure, pungent when contaminated

 

Thiocresol

Rancid, skunklike odour

Cyclohexanol

Camphor, methanol

Toluene

Floral, pungent, moth balls

 

Cyclohexanone

Acetone-like

Trichloroethylene

Solventy

 

Diamines

Rotten flesh

Triethylamine

Fishy, pungent

 

1,1-Dichloroethane

Ether-like

Valeric acid

Sweat, body odour, cheese

 

 

1,2-Dichloroethylene

Chloroform-like

Vinyl chloride

Faintly sweet

 

 

Diethyl ether

Pungent

Xylene

Aromatic, sweet

 

Dimethylacetamide

 

Amine, burnt, oily

 

 

Compound

mg/m³

ppm

Compound

mg/m³

ppm

 

Acetic acid

0.043

0.016

2-Hydroxyethyl acetate

0.527

0.114

Acetic anhydride

0.0013

0.00029

Light fuel oil

0.053

 

Acetone

13.9

4.58

3-Methylbutanal

0.0016

0.0004

Acrylic acid

0.0013

0.0004

2-Methyl-1-butanol

0.16

0.041

Amyl acetate

0.95

0.163

Methyldithiomethane

0.0011

0.00026

iso Amyl acetate

0.022

0.0038

2-Methyl 5-ethyl pyridine

0.032

0.006

Benzene

32.5

8.65

Methyl methacrylate

0.38

0.085

1,3-Butadiene

1.1

0.455

3-Methoxybutyl acetate

0.044

0.007

1-Butanol

0.09

0.03

1-Methoxypropan-2-ol

0.0122

0.003

2-Butanol

3.3

1

1-Methoxy-2-propylacetate

0.0075

0.0014

2-Butanone (MEK)

0.87

0.27

2-Methyl-1-pentanol

0.096

0.021

Butoxybutane

0.03

0.005

2-Methyl pentaldehyde

0.09

0.02

2-Butoxyethanol

0.0051

0.00097

4-Methyl-2-pentanone (MIBK)

0.54

0.121

2-Butoxyethyl acetate

0.045

0.0063

2-Methyl-2-propanol

71

21.46

Butoxypropanol

0.191

0.0324

α-Methyl styrene

0.021

0.003

Butyl acetate

0.047

0.0066

1-Nitropropane

28.2

7.09

2-(2-Butoxyethocy)ethanol

0.0092

0.0013

1-Octene

0.33

0.066

2,2-butoxyethoxyethyl acetate

0.015

0.0016

2-Octene

0.5

0.1

Carbon tetrachloride

280

40.73

2-Octyne

0.03

0.006

Carbon sulphide

0.0275

0.0102

2,4-Pentanedione

0.045

0.01

m-Cresol

0.0013

0.0003

1-Pentanol

0.02

0.0051

o-Cresol

0.0028

0.0005

Petroleum naptha

0.2

 

p-Cresol

0.0029

0.0006

Phenyl ether

0.0021

0.0003

Cyclohexane

315

83.8

2-Picoline

0.014

0.0034

Cyclohexanone

0.083

0.019

Propanal

0.014

0.0054

Dichloromethane

3.42

0.912

2-Propanol

1.185

0.442

Diesel

0.06

2-Propen-1-ol

1.2

0.47

 

Dimethyl adipate

7.101

0.913

iso Propylamine

0.158

0.06

Dimethyl glutarate

1.212

0.169

Propylbenzene

0.048

0.009

Dimethyl succinate

0.992

0.152

Propylene-n-butylether

0.206

0.01

1,4-Dioxane

30.6

7.78

Propyl ether

0.024

0.0053

1,3-Dioxolane

56.3

17.02

Styrene

0.16

0.0344

Diphenylmethane

0.41

0.55

1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane

1.6

0.21

Ethoxypropanol

0.161

0.035

Toluene

0.644

0.16

Ethoxypropyl acetate

0.0052

0.0008

Trichloroethylene

8

1.36

Ethyl acetate

2.41

0.61

Trimethylamine

0.0026

0.001

Ethyl alcohol

0.28

0.136

Xylene (mixed)

0.078

0.016

2-Ethyl-1-butanol

0.07

0.015

2,3 Xylenol

0.0037

0.0007

2-Ethyl-1-hexanol

0.5

0.086

2,4 Xylenol

0.064

0.0117

2-Ethylhexyl acrylate

0.6

0.073

 

2-Furaldehyde

0.25

0.058

 

1-Hexanol

0.005

0.0011

 

Hydrogen sulphide

0.00076

0.0005

 

Odour Detection

Odour Threshold