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Byers Scientific, Iowa State University, and odor experts identify the volatile chemical compound responsible for cannabis odor complaints

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. March 23 2021 / PRNewswire / – Research team consisting of Byers Scientific, Iowa State University and Texas Odor Experts report on substance isolation and identification Volatile chemistry that appears to be the main culprit in the downwind skunk environmental odor complaints that have been commonly reported for commercial cannabis and industrial hemp growing operations.

By employing a triangulation approach to analytical chemistry (i.e., SPME fiber, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and GC olfactometry analysis), leaf enclosure study, and field observation, the team of researchers was able to isolate, identify, measure and ultimately conclude that the compound 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (ie 321 MBT) is the primary source of the traditionally unpleasant odor of cannabis.

The compound is also the same odorous volatile chemical previously reported to be responsible for the skunk-like aroma and flavor defect in light duty beer.

Historically, the unpleasant odor of cannabis has often been linked to terpenes (i.e., unspecified members of the wide range of naturally occurring volatile hydrocarbons that are most commonly associated with the familiar scents of citrus and other fruits, eucalyptus leaves, and hydrocarbon solvents, etc.). This reported discovery of the actual link between 'skunk' cannabis and 321 MBT supports the more persuasive expectation of a sulfur component within the chemical profile of the cannabis plant emission. In hindsight, the relationship between 'skunk' beer and cannabis should probably come as no surprise, as the smell of 'skunk' beer comes from hops that belong to the same plant family (Cannabaceae) as cannabis and hemp. Perhaps more surprising; however, previous odor prioritization efforts by collaborative consultants have also shown that MBT represents an odor impact priority for king skunk oil, extracted from the skunk musk gland. In these earlier investigations, MBT was ranked second in odor impact priority, second only to E-2-butene-1-thiol.

While this discovery is exciting and represents true progress in the scientific understanding of the source of cannabis's distinctive and divisive odor, the researchers caution that this is only the critical first step in fully investigating this topic. Foliar enclosure studies reveal other thiols present in plant emissions and, more importantly, other compounds in plant gas phase emissions and atmospheric reactions can significantly affect the perception and measurement of 321 MBT. Efforts are currently underway to further evaluate odor and the most appropriate form of mitigation.

Media contact: Emily Long
[email protected]

About Byers Scientific

Byers Scientific is a globally recognized leader in odor mitigation and emission assessment solutions. Leveraging cutting-edge research and technology, Byers offers the best industrial-scale odor mitigation solutions, data-driven emissions analysis, and scalable cloud-based technology to help companies future-proof their growth strategies.

Additional press contact:

Christina Brown

SOURCE Byers Scientific

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