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Percept Psychophys. 1997 Jul;59(5):665-74.

Agonistic sensory effects of airborne chemicals in mixtures: odor, nasal pungency, and eye irritation.

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Department of Surgery (Otolaryngology), University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0957, USA. ecometto@ucsd-edu


Thresholds responses of odor, nasal pungency (irritation), and eye irritation were measured for single chemicals (1-propanol, 1-hexanol, ethyl acetate, heptyl acetate, 2-pentanone, 2-heptanone, toluene, ethyl benzene, and propyl benzene) and mixtures of them (two three-component mixtures, two six-component mixtures, and one nine-component mixture). Nasal pungency was measured in subjects lacking a functional sense of smell (i.e., anosmics) to avoid interference from olfaction. Various degrees of stimulus agonism (additive effects) were observed for each of the three sensory channels when testing mixtures. As the number of components and the lipophilicity of such components in the mixtures decreased, so did the degree of agonism. Synergistic stimulus agonism characterized the eye-irritation response for the most complex (the nine-component) and the most lipophilic (one of the six-component) mixtures. Physicochemical properties play a large role in the determination of sensitivity to airborne chemicals, particularly to their ability to evoke irritation. While this has revealed itself previously with respect to single chemicals, it seems to have relevance to mixtures as well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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