Odour Assessments – Can Our Lungs Smell?
Air quality and odour assessments often require similar expertise given the types of atmospheric dispersion involved, the potential for modelling and the overlapping guidance and legislation. However, the consequences of these different types of pollutant are often thought of as being disparate. Odour is generally seen in terms of nuisance, with air quality effects often resulting in more direct health impacts. New research suggests that the health impacts of odours could also be significant.
It seems that our noses are not the only things that can sense smells such as cigarette smoke. Researchers at Washington University and the University of Iowa have recently discovered that other sensors of volatile chemicals can be found in mammalian airways, particularly in humans, though their function remains uncertain.
The research has indicated that human lungs contain specialised cells that respond to some odorous stimuli, which may in turn help to explain clinical observations of odorant-induced airway reactions, particularly in people with certain ailments such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Given that poor air quality has long been linked to increased rates of COPD, the potential for interactions between odour and elevated levels of other pollutants could potentially become an important aspect of environmental impact assessment.
The abstract of the paper by Xiaoling et. al. can be found here. Should you need an odour assessment, please contact us as we would be delighted to help.