UC San Diego
Nasal pungency, odor, and eye irritation thresholds for homologous acetates
- Author(s): Cometto-Muniz, J. Enrique
- Cain, William S
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1016/0091-3057(91)90063-8
We measured detection thresholds for nasal pungency (in anosmics), odor (in normosmics) and eye irritation employing a homologous series of acetates: methyl through octyl acetate, decyl and dodecyl acetate. All anosmics reliably detected the series up to heptyl acetate. Only the anosmics without smell since birth (congenital) reliably detected octyl acetate, and only one congenital anosmic detected decyl and dodecyl acetate. Anosmics who lost smell from head trauma proved to be selectively less sensitive. As expected, odor thresholds lay well below pungency thresholds. Eye irritation thresholds for selected acetates came close to nasal pungency thresholds. All three types of thresholds decreased logarithmically with carbon chain length, as previously seen with homologous alcohols and as seen in narcotic and toxic phenomena. Results imply that nasal pungency for these stimuli rests upon a physical - rather than chemical - interaction with susceptible mucosal structures. When expressed as thermodynamic activity, nasal pungency thresholds remain remarkably constant within and across the homologous series of acetates and alcohols.