Odor analysis by olfactometry relies on the use of n-butanol as a reference compound for standardizing the selection of human panelists. This requires that human sensitivity towards n-butanol is correlated to sensitivity towards other odorants as well as complex odor mixtures. However, there is limited evidence in the literature of such correlations. In this work, datasets from three odor laboratories were investigated in order to clarify this. All panels routinely analyzed n-butanol and H2S samples. Two of the laboratories analyzed samples from pig production or industry, whereas one laboratory determined odor threshold values for typical pig production odorants. Non-significant correlations were observed in most cases and odor threshold values for structurally related compounds were not well correlated. The work presented strongly indicates that the sensitivity of odor panelists towards n-butanol is not well transferred to other odorants or odor samples. Furthermore, minimization of variance by using n-butanol is not transferable to other odorants or environmental samples. Thus, the harmonization of human panelists for odor analysis based on n-butanol does not appear to result in harmonization with respect to other odorants or odor samples.

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