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Despite all technological advances, the human nose is still the best detector to measure odour. The human nose can distinguish thousands of odours, often from concentrations many times below ppb level. To this end, the human nose is equipped with two odour detection regions, each equipped with approximately 6 million odour receptors. There are thousands of organic compounds that can deliver an important fragrance contribution. However, some of these odour compounds occur in such low concentrations that they can not be detected by conventional chemical analysis methods. The combination of the mass spectrometer and the sniffing outlet therefore offers many possibilities in terms of indicating odour relevant compounds in an air sample and detecting compounds responsible for a deviating odour. OLFASCAN has developed a unique odour identification system based on a literature study and extensive experimenting. This ensures that every calibrated OLFASCAN employee delivers uniform and reproducible results.


When a chemical analysis is performed, all organic compounds present are separated by chromatography and sent to a detector. In GC-Sniffing, the separated molecules are sent simultaneously to two detectors: a mass spectrometer and a 'sniffing outlet', which is conditioned for temperature and humidity. GC-Sniffing thus involves a combination of measurement with the human nose and analytical equipment. A trained OLFASCAN employee will smell the outflow of the sniffing outlet throughout the GC-Sniffing analysis. This way, chemical compounds will not only be interpreted qualitatively and semi-quantitatively by the MS, but sensory information will also be collected. Using GC-Sniffing, the most relevant odour compounds can be selected and the cause of odour nuisance can be very specifically identified. The objective of GC-Sniffing is to list the compounds that make an important contribution to the total odour character (both type and strength of odour).


Smell is usually caused by a combination of components. Via GC-Sniffing it is possible to distinguish these odours from each other in order to identify the different odours separately. Often it is not easy to identify a deviating smell of a product and to find out what causes this deviation. With a GC-Sniffing analysis on the product with and without abnormal odour the difference between the two can be figured out. In addition, raw materials can be analyzed to find the source / cause of the abnormal smell.

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