Title page for ETD etd-09262008-005856

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Omur-Ozbek, Pinar
Author's Email Address pinar@vt.edu
URN etd-09262008-005856
Title Macromolecular Reactions and Sensory Perception at the Air-Water-Human Interface
Degree PhD
Department Environmental Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dietrich, Andrea M. Committee Chair
Duncan, Susan E. Committee Member
Edwards, Marc A. Committee Member
Lee, Yong Woo Committee Member
Little, John C. Committee Member
  • Oral Epithelial Cells
  • FPA
  • Hexanal
  • Metallic Flavor
  • Taste-and-Odor
  • Drinking Water
  • Antioxidants
  • Chelators
  • Copper
  • Lipid Oxidation
  • Iron
Date of Defense 2008-09-12
Availability unrestricted
During 20th century main concern was to have sanitary water flowing through the tap. In 21st century constant supply of safe drinking water is common at any home in USA. Hence consumers pay attention to aesthetic quality of tap water. Odorous algal metabolites in source water and metals introduced to drinking water due to corrosion of pipes in the distribution system cause taste, odor and color problems, and result in complaints and perception of tap water as unhealthy. Millions of dollars are spent each year by water industry to address and prevent these issues.

This research focused on some of the taste-and-odor issues associated with drinking water. First aim was to understand when geosmin, 2-MIB, and nonadienal become detectable, employing two-resistance mass transfer theory to determine the concentration of odorants in bathroom air. Results showed that water temperature and odorant concentration in water play an important role. Next focus was to develop an international odor standard to be used for training of sensory analysis panelists. There are many sensory methods to monitor drinking water to detect the off-flavors however an odor standard has been missing. Hexanal was studied with trained flavor profile analysis panels and was proposed as an ideal odor reference standard to be used for training and sensory assessment of water samples. Main focus was to understand metallic flavor of drinking water caused by iron and copper. It was shown that metallic sensation has taste and retronasal components creating the flavor and humans are very sensitive to it. Occurrence of lipid oxidation in the oral cavity was shown when metals were ingested, that produces carbonyls which are responsible for the metallic flavor. Antioxidants and chelators were investigated to study prevention of lipid oxidation and, chelators were determined to be more effective. Oral epithelial cell cultures were developed as a model for oral cavity to further investigate lipid oxidation and effectiveness of the antioxidants and chelators.

This dissertation is a result of inter-disciplinary work and possibly a good example for how problems may be solved by incorporating different methods and point of views from several disciplines.

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