• odor threshold;
  • threshold limit value;
  • volatility;
  • solubility;
  • distribution ratio;
  • chemical safety


The body of information in this paper is directed to specialists in industrial health and safety, and air and water pollution, who need quantitative data on the odor thresholds of potentially hazardous chemical vapors and gases. The literature, largely unorganized, has been reviewed for 214 compounds and condensed into tables based on consistent units. Data on the volatility, solubility, ionization and water-air distribution ratio at 25°C are included. From the currently recommended threshold limit value (TLV), a safe dilution factor and an odor safety factor are calculated for each compound. The equivalent data are presented for both air and water dilutions of the chemicals. Available data are summarized on the variability of odor sensitivities in the population, and the increased odor concentrations that are required to elicit responses from persons whose attention is distracted, or who are sleeping. This information is reduced to calibration charts that may be used to estimate the relative detectability, warning potential and rousing capacity of the odorous vapors. Each compound has been assigned a letter classification, from A to E, to indicate the margin of safety, if any, that may be afforded by the odor of the compound as a warning that its threshold limit value is being exceeded.