Beijing (AFP) June 20, 2007
A dozen people with professional "noses" are set to help in the battle against pollution in southern China by sniffing out dangerous chemicals in the air, state media said Wednesday. The team will be employed by an environmental monitoring station in Guangzhou city to detect noxious gases released by chemical and rubber factories, as well as from rubbish dumps and sewers, the China Daily said.
"Now we can differentiate between hundreds of smells that may make people ill, before making an assessment on their density," said Liu Jingcai from the station, adding the gases are major pollutants in the area.
"We have honed our smelling skills from various sources of pollution. It will help in the detection efforts of our bureau, and hopefully bring more pollution violators to justice.
"The work is quite unpleasant. We have to stay in a lab smelling those awful gases repeatedly."
The workers will also use some equipment to measure the precise density of gases, but Liu said there was no substitute for the human nose.
"Our equipment can accurately analyse the density of a particular gas but with mixed gases they are not reliable... and it cannot tell the effects on humans," he said.
The team will soon receive certificates to allow them to start their jobs which will be valid for three years, as a sense of smell diminishes with age, the report added.
The report contained no details about the potential health effects for the professional sniffers.
Source: Agence France-Presse
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