Olfactory Sensitivity of Subjects Working in Odorous Environments

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The aim of the present study was to investigate whether people with a professional interest in odors also exhibit higher olfactory sensitivity. To this end, we investigated 58 subjects (age 33.6 ± 11.0 years, mean ± SD; 55 women) employed in perfume retail outlets and compared their olfactory sensitivity to 58 controls (age 34.6 ± 9.9 years; 53 women) matched for age, gender and professional activities who did not work in such odorous environments. Olfactory function was assessed using the ‘Sniffin’ Sticks’ test kit which includes tests for n-butanol odor threshold, odor discrimination and odor identification. Subjects working in perfume retail outlets scored higher in odor discrimination tests compared to controls. Working in an odorous environment for a full day had no major effect on general olfactory abilities, as indicated by measures performed at the beginning and end of a working day. Taken together, results from the present study do not support the idea that odorous environments are deleterious to general olfactory function.

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