Blog Post Series 3

Is change really coming?

In spite the fact that the sense of smell is such a vital part of life, little study has been done regarding the effect of the various environments that may or may not affect our olfactory function. A study in 2003 by Synder studied how the smell of manure affects the sense of smell of farmers exposed to them most of the day they are at work. He found that long exposures to manure odor doesn’t have a significant effect on the said sense of the farmers.

On a more recent study, Hummel (2004) looked into the effect of working in the perfume industry to the olfactory function of the employees. His aim is to see whether exposure to different levels of concentration of odor would affect the olfactory function of an individual. More specifically, he aims to figure out if it has a significant effect on the sense’s sensitivity.

To make this happen, he gathered individuals working in an odorous environment (in this light, professionals in the perfume industry) and those who aren’t working in such. He tested both using Sniffin Sticks, a pen-like device that dispenses odor. This gadget can conduct three tests namely  n-butanol odor threshold, odor discrimination and odor identification.

Hummel’s study found that there was no difference in the odor identification and odor thresholds of the two test groups. However, he also found that there’s a difference in the odor discrimation abilities of the two. Moreover, he also found that working in an odorous environment doesn’t have affect the general olfactory function and that the years of work in an odorous industry doesn’t also affect the sense of smell.


Hummel, T. (2004). Olfactory Sensitivity of Subjects Working in Odorous Environments. Chemical Senses,29(6), 533-536. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjh058


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