Flavor-profile analysis (FPA) is a sensory method utilizing a trained panel of four to six individuals. Reference materials are used to establish a common vocabulary for different odors found in drinking water. Known quantities of different taste- and odor-causing chemicals are evaluated to calibrate the panel on a consistent intensity scale. Each identifiable descriptor is assigned its own intensity. This method has been successfully applied in the analysis of musty-smelling compounds, e.g., 2-methylisoborneol (MIB). MIB samples and standards from 1 to 80 ng/l have been shown to observe the WeberFechner law (i.e., a plot of flavor intensity versus logarithm of concentration of MIB yielded a straight line). FPA has also been used to handle fishy/swampy odor problems. In many instances, specific causative organic compounds were not identified; however, FPA evaluations of water using different free-chlorine dosages and contact times made possible immediate resolution of these odor problems. FPA has yielded reproducible sensory data that have been useful in better understanding and handling off-flavors in drinking water.

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