Efficacy of Volatile Organic Compounds in Evoking Nasal Pungency and Odor
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1080/00039896.1993.9936719
Sensory irritation (pungency) figures prominently among the symptoms associated with polluted indoor environments. In order to separate the pungent from the olfactory response, we measured nasal pungency thresholds in subjects lacking olfaction (anosmics) and odor thresholds in normal controls (normosmics) for a homologous series of ketones, and selected secondary and tertiary alcohols and acetates. As seen before for homologous alcohols and acetates, both types of nasal thresholds decreased with increasing carbon chain length. Pungency thresholds decreased exponentially with chain length. For all nonreactive chemicals studied so far, threshold nasal pungency is achieved at a fairly constant percentage of vapor saturation, irrespective of molecular size or chemical functional group. Such a relationship does not hold for odor thresholds. The outcome for pungency implies an important role for a physical, rather than chemical, interaction with the nasal mucosa.