UC San Diego
Agonistic sensory effects of airborne chemicals in mixtures: Odor, nasal pungency, and eye irritation
- Author(s): Cometto-Muniz, J. Enrique
- Cain, William S
- Hudnell, H. Kenneth
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.3758/BF03206014
Threshold responses of odor, nasal pungency (irritation), and eye irritation were measured for single chemicals (1-propanol, 1-hexanol, ethyl acetate, heptyl acetate, 2-pentanone, 2-heptanone, toluene, ethyl benzene, and propyl benzene) and mixtures of them (two three-component mixtures, two six-component mixtures and one nine-component mixture). Nasal pungency was measured in subjects lacking a functional sense of smell (i.e., anosmics) to avoid interference from olfaction. Various degrees of stimulus agonism (additive effects) were observed for each of the three sensory channels when testing mixtures. As the number of components and the lipophilicity of such components in the mixtures increased, so did the degree of agonism. Synergistic stimulus agonism characterized the eye irritation response for the most complex (the nine-component) and the most lipophilic (one of the six-component) mixtures. Physicochemical properties play a large role in the determination of sensitivity to airborne chemicals, particularly to their ability to evoke irritation. Whereas this has revealed itself previously with respect to single chemicals, it seems to have relevance to mixtures as well.