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Comparison of Field Olfactometers in a Controlled Chamber using Hydrogen Sulfide as the Test Odorant

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A standard method for measuring and quantifying odor in the ambient air utilizes a portable odor detecting and measuring device known as a field olfactometer (U.S. Public Health Service Project Grant A-58-541). The field olfactometer dynamically dilutes the ambient air with carbon-filtered air in distinct ratios known as “Dilutions-to-Threshold” dilution factors (D/T's), i.e. 2, 4, 7, 15, etc. Thirteen U.S. states and several cities in North America currently utilize field olfactometry as a key component of determining compliance to odor regulations and ordinances.

A controlled environmental chamber was utilized with hydrogen sulfide as the known test odorant. A hydrogen sulfide environment was created in this controlled chamber using an Advanced Calibration Designs, Inc. Cal2000 Hydrogen Sulfide Generator. The hydrogen sulfide concentration inside the chamber was monitored using an Arizona Instruments, Inc. Jerome Model 631 H2S Analyzer.

When the environmental chamber reached a desired test concentration, test operators entered the chamber. The dilution-to-threshold odor concentration was measured using a Nasal Ranger Field Olfactometer (St. Croix Sensory, Inc.) and a Barneby Sutcliffe Corp. Scentometer. The actual hydrogen sulfide concentration was also measured at the location in the room where the operators were standing while using the two types of field olfactometers.

This paper presents a correlation between dilution-to-threshold values (D/T) and hydrogen sulfide ambient concentration. For example, a D/T of 7 corresponds to ambient H2S concentrations of 4-11 ppb. During this study, no significant difference was found between results obtained using the Scentometer or the Nasal Ranger (r=0.82). Also, no significant difference was found between results of multiple Nasal Ranger users (p=0.309). The field olfactometers yielded hydrogen sulfide thresholds of 0.5-2.0ppb. Laboratory olfactometry yielded comparable thresholds of 0.45-0.9 ppb. These thresholds are consistent with published values.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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