Taste-and-odour complaints are a leading cause of consumer dissatisfaction with drinking water. The aim of this study was to determine odour threshold concentration ranges and descriptors, using a Western Australian odour panel, for chlorine, bromine, chlorine added to bromide ions, the four major regulated trihalomethanes (THMs), and combined THMs. An odour panel was established and trained to determine odour threshold concentration ranges for odorous compounds typically found in drinking water at 25°C, using modified flavour profile analysis (FPA) techniques. Bromine and chlorine had the same odour threshold concentration ranges and were both described as having a chlorinous odour by a majority of panellists, but the odour threshold concentration range of bromine expressed in free chlorine equivalents was lower that that of chlorine. It is likely that the free chlorine equivalent residuals measured in many parts of distribution systems in Western Australia are comprised of some portion of bromine and that bromine has the potential to cause chlorinous odours at a lower free chlorine equivalent concentration than chlorine itself. In fact, bromine is the likely cause of any chlorinous odours in Western Australian distributed waters when the free chlorine equivalent concentration is between 0.04 and 0.1 mg L−1. Odour threshold concentrations for the four individual THMs ranged from 0.06–0.16 mg L−1, and the odour threshold concentration range was 0.10 ± 0.09 mg L−1 when the four THMs were combined (in equal mass concentrations). These concentrations are below the maximum guideline value for total THM concentration in Australia so odours from these compounds may possibly be observed in distributed waters. However, while the presence of THMs may contribute to any sweet/fragrant/floral and chemical/hydrocarbon odours in local drinking waters, the THMs are unlikely to contribute to chlorinous odours.

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