Comparison of two standard odor intensity evaluation methods for odor problems in air or water

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Government agencies responsible for ensuring healthful water and/or air quality are often faced with resolving public complaints of nuisance odors. Understanding variations in odor intensity may ultimately lead to the establishment and application by such agencies of quantitative limits for effective odorant control. An odor panel was trained in suprathreshold odor intensity evaluation using both the ASTM Method E544 (Butanol Method) and the APHA Method 2170 (Flavor Profile Analysis (FPA) Method). A linear mixed model was fitted to the panel data, taking into account the fixed effects of concentration levels and the random effects of panelists and sessions. The FPA method proved easier to administer and revealed less inter-session variance than the ASTM Method, suggesting its greater utility in applications involving odor panels. For both methods, there was a high standard deviation, relative to the mean. This finding indicates that the intensity scales may be useful for understanding relative odor intensities, but should not be used as a precise measure, or as a basis for establishing regulatory limits.

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