Water Odor and Taste

Water Odor and Taste <<<...return

Disagreeable odors and tastes in water are associated with the presence of any of a great variety of objectionable substances. Living microscopic organisms or decaying vegetation including weeds, bacteria, fungi and algae are responsible for most disagreeable odors and tastes in natural waters.

Taste responses are often difficult to differentiate from odor responses because the senses of taste and smell are closely interrelated. Certain non-volatile substances dissolved in water can cause taste without causing odors. To some extent, therefore, the subject of taste producing substances in water may be assessed independently. Odorous substances in water must be vaporized to be smelled. While such substances may often be tasted, the sense of smell is generally much more acute than that of taste. Odors can be caused by volatile substances in concentrations too small to be detected by ordinary analytical techniques. Therefore, reliance must be placed upon the sense of smell in spite of its subjectivity and lack of precision. Although no procedures for odor and taste determinations are recommended, methods have been devised for determining the presence of odor and taste in either cold or hot water and the results are reported in terms of threshold numbers.

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