Odor and chemesthesis from brief exposure to TXIB

W.S. Cain, R.A. de Wijk, A.A. Jalowayski, G. Pilla Caminha, R. Schmidt

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    37 Citations (Scopus)


    An experiment explored ability of subjects to detect vapors of the plasticizer TXIB (2,2,4-trimethyl-1,3-pentanediol diisobutyrate) and ethanol via olfaction and via ocular and nasal chemesthesis, i.e. chemically stimulated feel. Testing, tailored to the sensitivity of each subject, produced psychometric functions for individuals. Olfactory detection of TXIB began at concentrations below 1 ppb (v/v), with 50% correct detection at 1.2 ppb. (Comparable detection for ethanol occurred almost two orders of magnitude higher.) Chemesthetic detection of TXIB began at about 500 ppb, with 50% correct detection at 2.1 ppm for the eye and 4.6 ppm for the nose, both close to saturated vapor concentration. (Comparable detection for ethanol occurred essentially three orders of magnitude higher.) Suggestions that TXIB plays a role in generation of irritative symptoms at concentrations in the range of parts-per-billion need to reckon with a conservatively estimated 200-fold gap between the levels putatively ‘responsible’ for the symptoms and those even minimally detectable via chemesthesis. Neither the variable of exposure duration nor that of mixing offers a likely explanation. Inclusion of ethanol in the study allowed comparisons pertinent to issues of variability in human chemoreception. An interpretation of the psychometric functions for individuals across materials and perceptual continua led to the conclusion that use of concentration as the metric of detection in olfaction inflates individual differences.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)445-457
    JournalIndoor Air
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • volatile organic-compounds
    • nasal pungency
    • airborne chemicals
    • eye irritation
    • olfactory sensitivity
    • indoor air
    • thresholds
    • receptor
    • emission
    • vocs


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