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A Screening Test for Field and Resident Odor Assessors

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Resident odor assessors are often sought for monitoring the odor occurrence in the community. Recruited assessors are regularly asked to rate or describe several odor parameters, such as intensity, duration, offensiveness, and odor character. Optimally, these people would reflect the average odor perception of that specific community. Selection of people based on their 1-butanol threshold, using a dynamic olfactometer, may not be a viable approach since an olfactometry laboratory is not always available nearby. Moreover, the kinds of reports made by resident assessors require other qualities beyond presenting 1-butanol threshold within a specific range.

In this study we developed a screening test for field and resident odor assessors. The test includes three main parts: A triangular forced-choice test, odor intensity evaluation, hedonic tone and odor character evaluation. Grading was based on two criteria: 1. providing correct answers in the relevant parts of the test, 2. describing odor intensity, hedonic tone and odor character in a way similar to the average odor perception of that specific population. This was done by first averaging the results of the tested population and then grading each result based on its distance from the average.

A group of 144 individuals (83 women and 61 men) participated in this study. Of them, 18 were in an age between 21-30; 44 between 31-40; 37 between 41-50; 39 between 51-60; and 6 individuals between 61 and 70. The average final grade of this population was 86.6 (±9.12) and the median was 88.0. It was decided that individuals whose final grade was within the upper 75th percentiles (final grade ≥ 80.38) would pass the test. A 72.3% out of the men and 78.7% out of the women passed the test. A 78.8% out of the people living in cities passed the test but only 69.5% out of the people living in rural settlements. Age played a substantial factor mainly in the age groups over 51 years old. At the first three age groups (between 21-50) about 80% passed the test, whereas only 66.7% and 33.3% passed the test in the 51-60 and 61-70 age groups, respectively.

This proposed test and grading procedure found useful by us to screen for assessors with good smelling capability and with relatively average odor perception. The test is very simple to perform, does not need any special laboratory and is especially suitable to recruit resident assessors within the community.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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