Effect of environmental pollutants on taste and smell

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992 Jun;106(6):693-700. doi: 10.1177/019459989210600613.


Various man-made and naturally occurring chemicals and substances can modify the chemosensory systems of animals and man. This article provides an overview of research studies that investigate the impact of pollution on taste and smell perception. Acute and chronic alterations in taste and olfaction are discussed for solvents, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, disinfectants, germicides, soil fumigants, dyes, pharmaceuticals, textile wastes, smog, tobacco smoke, perfumes, flavors, plastics, synthetic rubber, and other industrial substances. The mechanisms by which pollutants may cause physiologic and biologic changes are highlighted. Natural detoxification systems are discussed, as well as treatments for chemosensory deficits.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Olfaction Disorders / chemically induced
  • Smell / drug effects*
  • Taste / drug effects*


  • Air Pollutants