What is Olfactory Fatigue? Do you have it?

Olfactory Fatigue is a common experience of losing the sense of smell.

OIfactory Fatigue is a name for the common experience of losing sensitivity to odors after prolonged exposure.  If you work around the same odors all day, your body will adapt and the smell will weaken over time. Eventually, you will no longer be able to recognize the smell because you are experiencing Olfactory Fatigue. Olfactory Fatigue will go away if you have extended time away from a smell, but will soon after you return to it, come back.

Olfactory Fatigue is a sensory adaptation. It enables your body to adapt to prolonged exposure to smells so that your nervous systems doesn’t become overloaded, as it needs to be ready to respond to new smells. The human body and our senses work in curious ways. If we have an alert of something dangerous to our health for a while, our body decides to shut it off if we choose to do nothing about it. We begin to tolerate the pain/ occurrence as if it is not even there.  

What does this mean for you? Febreeze turned being "nose blind" or having olfactory fatigue into a stinking issue.  What if you have olfactory fatigue working around hazardous chemicals that will harm your health?  It means that even though you are not smelling harmful chemicals in the air, they can still be present. The chemicals you are breathing in are hazardous even though your nose is not detecting the smell.  Putting systems and controls in place to properly manage and monitor these chemicals to ensure a safe working environment is the only way to overcome Olfactory Fatigue.

The scariest thing about olfactory fatigue is what can happen if there is a leak and your body does not warn you of it by smell. Some health risks associated with Peracetic Acid, Hydrogen Peroxide and/or Ethylene Oxide:

Eye irritation: eye damage after prolonged exposure
Nose and throat irritation
Skin irritation dermatitis 
Respiratory distress
Known carcinogen
Affects both the female and male reproductive systems
Birth defects
Increased risk of miscarriage


For information on how to protect yourself and your workers from dangerous gases, visit:

Peracetic Acid
Hydrogen Peroxide
Ethylene Oxide


Talk to a ChemDAQ Rep About Monitoring Your Environment