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CO & Smell

• They are therefore • evolution it has kept

known as chemical its connections with
senses. The genesis of
those parts of our
the perception of taste
or smell is brain which sort our
intermolecular emotional
interaction rather than responses.
interaction of molecules
with electromagnetic
radiation (vision) or
pressure differences
• To be smelly, a • Molecules of an odourous
substance must be substance present in air,
either a sufficiently when swept into our
nostrils, dissolve into the
volatile liquid/solid or a mucus fluid surrounding the
gas. It must be able to cilia to cause the cells to
release into air around stimulate the neurons.
us enough number of
which can stimulate our • The sensory receptors then
sensory receptors. fire off electrical signals to
the two olfactory bulbs in
the brain. It is in the brain
• Ionic substances like that these signals are
processed to generate the
common salt and perception of a particular
minerals rocks have smell.
therefore no odour at all.
• Thus unless a • 1/460,000,000 of a
certain optimum milligram of a
number of mercaptan, (a
molecules of a group of odorous
substance enter chemicals)
our nostrils we do contained in a whiff
not perceive a of air is sufficient
smell to elicit a strong
odour or . . .
• Some believed that the • Fruity
smell of a chemical
depends on properties
such as the shape,
chemical structure or
electrical charge of its • Bitter almonds
• But recently, scientists
have identified
compounds which are • Rotten eggs
structurally totally
unrelated but still have
similar odours.
• The current suggestion is that the
presence of certain vibrational
bands in the infra red spectrum of
the substance, may stimulate a
particular odor.
SO, What’s the deal with Carbon Monoxide?!
• CO is not an acidic oxide [unlike CO2] it is
only slightly soluble in H2O. The use of
molecular oxygen as an electron acceptor
is why it really isn’t soluble in H2O.
• Lipids closely relate to hydrocarbons but
have other atoms which limit solubility.
• The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that spontaneous run-down hill
increasing entropy or disorder.

• Van der Waal force:

• Carbonic acid => weak
• [ H2CO3 ]
• [ CO2 + H2O ]

• Metabolic release of CO2 reduces pH in the surrounding cellular fluids which

must be buffered in order to proceed. This is accomplished by the hemoglobin

• It burns readily in Oxygen. It is used in organic synthesis & production of

hydrocarbon fuels.

• Stimuli detected by the olfactory system (odors,smells) are volatile substances

in the air sensitive enough to detect 1-part in 50-billionths of air; thusly it is
added to odorless natural gas so we may detect gas leaks.