Identification of Key Odorants in Used Disposable Absorbent Incontinence Products

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The purpose of this study was to identify key odorants in used disposable absorbent incontinence products.


Descriptive in vitro study


Samples of used incontinence products were collected from 8 residents with urinary incontinence living in geriatric nursing homes in the Gothenburg area of Sweden. Products were chosen from a larger set of products that had previously been characterized by descriptive odor analysis.


Pieces of the used incontinence products were cut from the wet area, placed in glass bottles, and kept frozen until dynamic headspace sampling of volatile compounds was completed. Gas chromatography–olfactometry was used to identify which compounds contributed most to the odors in the samples. Compounds were identified by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry.


Twenty-eight volatiles were found to be key odorants in the used incontinence products. Twenty-six were successfully identified. They belonged to the following classes of chemical compounds: aldehydes (6); amines (1); aromatics (3); isothiocyanates (1); heterocyclics (2); ketones (6); sulfur compounds (6); and terpenes (1).


Nine of the 28 key odorants were considered to be of particular importance to the odor of the used incontinence products: 3-methylbutanal, trimethylamine, cresol, guaiacol, 4,5-dimethylthiazole-S-oxide, diacetyl, dimethyl trisulfide, 5-methylthio-4-penten-2-ol, and an unidentified compound.

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