Saturday, August 19, 2017

Local Odor Vocab

Curren's SCAQMD Urban Odor Dictionary

You’re looking at a smell network based on the work of UCLA post-grad named Jane Curren. She took all the words used in odor complaints in southern California, and found the source of those complaints. These odor sources can be anything from a hidden garbage dump to a local restaurant. The size of the blue nodes doesn’t indicate smelliness; it indicates more descriptors. Restaurants have more descriptors because they have 1. More people near them and 2. A greater diversity of things that smell. (I’m guessing this.) What this chart does show is the most common odor complaints in the middle of the cluster – we smell burnt things a lot. Also rotten eggs/sulfur/natural gas.

Below, Curren went further and found the specific chemical source of these smells, and I listed them below. Next time you smell something funny, check this list. (And the next time you’re in New Jersey, take a tour of the New Jersey Turnpike mobile museum of olfactory delights, you’ll smell firsthand many of the odors on this list!)

Curren's Urban Odor Lexicon
Descriptor                           Odorant
solvent                                 2-butanone
petroleum                          2-methyl-1-propene
pungent                               2-pentanone
sweet                                   2-pentanone
lemon                                   acetaldehyde
alcohol                                  acetaldehyde
acrid                                      acrolein
pungent                               ammonia
sweet solvent                   benzene
sweet                                   dichloromethane
decayed cabbage             ethyl mercaptan
pungent                               formaldehyde
rotten egg                           hydrogen sulfide
woody                                  m-cresol
resinous                               m-cresol
medical                                                m-cresol
woody                                  o-cresol
resinous                               o-cresol
medical                                                o-cresol
woody                                  p-cresol
resinous                               p-cresol
medical                                                p-cresol
medical                                                phenol
sweet                                   phenol
irritating                               propanal
fruity                                     propanal
empyreumatic                  pyridinec
irritating                               sulfurdioxide
aromatic                              toluenec
fishy                                      trimethylamine
pungent                               trimethylamine
sweet                                   acetone
minty                                    acetone
sweet solvent                   benzene
woody                                  cresol
resinous                               cresol
medicinal                             cresol
sour                                       dimethyl disulfide
onion                                    dimethyl disulfide
decayed cabbage             dimethyl sulfide
decayed cabbage             ethyl mercaptan
garlic                                      ethyl mercaptan
aromatic                              ethylbenzene
pungent                               formaldehyde
rotten eggs                         hydrogen sulfide
skunk                                    i-propyl mercaptan
sour                                       methyl mercaptan
garlic                                      methyl mercaptan
decayed cabbage             methyl mercaptan
skunk                                    n-butyl mercaptan
skunk                                    n-propyl mercaptan
medicinal                             phenol
sweet                                   phenol
irritating                               propanal
sweet                                   p-xylene
sharp                                     thiophene
skunk                                    thiophene
rubber                                  toluene
moth balls                           toluene
aromatic                              1,2,4-trimethylbenzene
aromatic                              1,3,5-trimethylbenzene
vinegar                                 acetic acid
sour                                       acetic acid
chemical                              acetone
sweet                                   acetone
acrid                                      acrolien
pungent                               ammonia
sweet                                   a-pinene
pine                                       a-pinene
sweet solvent                   benzene
malty                                     butanal
burnt                                     butanal
rancid                                    butyric acid
sour                                       butyric acid
perspiration                       butyric acid
fruity                                     butyl acetate
dead body                          cadaverine
disagreeable sweet        carbon disulfide
almond                                 chlorobenzene
sweet                                   chloroform
ethereal                               chloroform
pungent                               crotonaledehyde
gasoline                               decane
ethereal                               dichloromethane
sour                                       dimethyl disulfide
onion                                    dimethyl disulfide
decaying vegetation       dimethyl sulfide
aromatic                              ethylbenzene
oily                                         heptanal
musty                                   heptanal
woody                                  heptanal
fatty                                      hexanal
green                                    hexanal
rotten egg                           hydrogen sulfide
sharp                                     isopropyl benzene
aromatic                              isopropyl benzene
sharp                                     cumene
aromatic                              cumene
lemon                                   limonene
decayed cabbage             methyl mercaptan
moth balls                           naphthalene
tar                                          naphthalene
sweet                                   m-xylene
gasoline                               octane
sweet                                   o-xylene
pungent                               pentanal
sharp                                     propanal
vinegar                                 propanoic acid
sour                                       propanoic acid
sweet                                   p-xylene
solvent                                 styrene
rubber                                  styrene
sweet                                   tetrachloroethene
rubber                                  toluene
moth balls                           toluene
sweet                                   tricholoroethane
fishy                                      trimethylamine
fecal                                      valeric acid
sour                                       valeric acid
sweet                                   vinyl acetate

Suffet and Rosenfeld's Urban Odor Lexicon
*much of Curren’s work came from Suffet and Rosenfeld, so I added their leftover terms here

Descriptor                           Odorant
Coffee                                  Furfruryl Thiopropionate
earthy                                   Geosmin
musty                                   2-Methyl isoborneol
moldy                                   2,4,6-Trichloroanisole
grassy                                   Cis-3-hexen-1-ol
dead animal                       Putresine
rotten vegetable              Dimethyl Trisulfide
fishy                                      Dimethyl Amine
fishy                                      Methyl Amine
plastic                                   Methyl Methacrylate
fecal                                      Indole
manure                                  Skatole
burnt                                     Guiaicol

Primary document: Curren, J. 2012. Characterization of Odor Nuisance. UCLA.

Supporting document: Suffet, I.H., and P.E. Rosenfeld (2007). The Anatomy of Odour Wheels for Odors of Drinking Water, Wastewater, Compost and the Urban Environment, Water Science and Technology 55(5), 335-344.

Research note: The descriptor names come from the above source and supporting documents, whereas the odor causing compounds were matched against varying sources which will not be listed here; see instead the source document for those references

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