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Ambient air has an odor after removing respirator

  1. Jun 2, 2016 #1
    I have noticed that after wearing a respirator (dual-cartridge activated charcoal by 3M) for an hour or so, when I remove it, the ambient air smells slightly sweet, almost like slight hint of ozone. After a little while without it, the smell seems to "go back to neutral" or nothing unique. I realize there is ozone in the air, but am surprised it'd be enough to smell, and it may not be ozone at all. However, I am assuming it is some kind of an "old-nose" type of thing, the respirator blocks all odors for an extended period, and then I am suddenly exposed to it again... maybe??? Anyone have any ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2016 #2


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    Yeah, it's not that the normal air has changed in any way obviously, it's that your nose sensitivity has changed slightly and your experience w/ that might differ from someone else's. That is, what you are experiencing might not be the same thing someone else does.
  4. Jun 7, 2016 #3
    I am not a biology person, but looking at this from a Physics point of view, you nose is a collection of sensors.
    The respirator filters out things in the air that would normally send signals to your brain, which filters
    out a signal from all the noise.
    Removing the respirator gives you a burst of what is now a "unique" smell, which after several minuets,
    is no longer unique, and so you brain moves it to the noise category.
  5. Jun 8, 2016 #4
    When I go for a walk in the park, I notice that after walking through a natural area with no cars, I can clearly smell the exhaust from the next car that I encounter with unusual pungency.

    It's probably the same effect: after smelling pure air your nose is primed to detect unclean air.
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