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The odorous properties of materials, pleasant, unpleasant, or with mixed cultural associations, stemming from the materials directly, or so distantly removed from them that the odor source is obscure, have been increasingly recognized as being fruitful subjects for study. Nomenclature, measurement, and control in this field all present somewhat unique problems. Because the perceptive mechanism of odor is perhaps the least perfectly understood among man's senses, nomenclature must have a subjective basis and may be a source of confusion in communication if it is not clarified. Problems in measurement are complicated by the facts that (a) many odorants are easily perceived in concentrations that are undetectable by direct physical or chemical methods, and (b) the measurement of an odor cannot be related to a perceptual mechanism (as can vision or sound, for example) and hence must be subjective, or organoleptic. In the applications field, there have been a number of interesting approaches to problems of odor control or modification, some of which have reached active commercial practice. ASTM Committee D-22 on Atmospheric Sampling and Analysis devotes attention to the odor problem through its Task Group on Odors of the Subcommittee on Analytical Methods. It was partly because of interest evoked by the activity of this Task Group, and with the aid of original organization and suggestions by L. C. McCabe, Chairman of Committee D-22, that this Symposium was initiated. J. Cholak, of the Kettering Laboratory, University of Cincinnati, and C. P. McCord, of the Institute of Industrial Health, University of Michigan, served with the Symposium Committee. It is hoped that the researches and reviews included herein will summarize and illustrate the “state of the art” in the industrial odor field, covering the aspects of nomenclature, measurement, and control. Nomenclature is discussed in the initial paper, dealing exclusively with this subject. Measurements are described in three papers devoted, respectively, to a temperature-rise method for combustible odorants, organoleptic appraisals of complex systems, and a test room for odor evaluations by a panel in a static system. Control problems are taken up in a paper dealing with outdoor odor pollution and a summary review on control methods.
Consulting ChemistChairman of Symposium Committee, Danbury, Conn.