Send to

Choose Destination
Environ Health Perspect. 1991 Nov;95:53-9.

Health effects of indoor odorants.

Author information

University of California, San Francisco General Hospital, Occupational Health Clinic 94110.


People assess the quality of the air indoors primarily on the basis of its odors and on their perception of associated health risk. The major current contributors to indoor odorants are human occupant odors (body odor), environmental tobacco smoke, volatile building materials, bio-odorants (particularly mold and animal-derived materials), air fresheners, deodorants, and perfumes. These are most often present as complex mixtures, making measurement of the total odorant problem difficult. There is no current method of measuring human body odor, other than by human panel studies of expert judges of air quality. Human body odors have been quantitated in terms of the "olf" which is the amount of air pollution produced by the average person. Another quantitative unit of odorants is the "decipol," which is the perceived level of pollution produced by the average human ventilated by 10 L/sec of unpolluted air or its equivalent level of dissatisfaction from nonhuman air pollutants. The standard regulatory approach, focusing on individual constituents or chemicals, is not likely to be successful in adequately controlling odorants in indoor air. Besides the current approach of setting minimum ventilation standards to prevent health effects due to indoor air pollution, a standard based on the olf or decipol unit might be more efficacious as well as simpler to measure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center