Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why Do People Smell Fishy?

Many Amines Have Odors That Disgust Us

Amines have “fishy” odor which is repulsive to many people. Trimethylamine Is what is generated in rotting fish, leaving that horrible smell behind. The reason we detect these scents is because the amines are water soluble and volatile liquids that make their way to the sensors in our nose. The nitrogen in animal flesh after decomposition turns into amines. Those amines that are released into the air are the rotten odors we smell. Stronger bad smelling odors come from diamines, the two amino groups purescine and cadaverine. Both of these amino groups are found in rotting meat and fish. These amines also contribute to the odor of urine, bad breath, and semen.

Amines- organic molecules that correspond to ammonia, in which one, two or all three of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by R groups consisting of chains or rings of carbon atoms (with their associated hydrogen atoms).
Diamines- amines that contain two amino groups.
Volatile- evaporating rapidly; passing off readily in the form of vapor.

I wanted to do a blog on this supplemental reading because I was curious what it was that made decomposing animals smell bad. Additionally, I found this particularly of interest because part of the reason I don’t like seafood is for its fishy scent. I also found it interesting that there is a human genetic disease that makes people smell like fish because of defects of enzymes that don’t convert to a odorless compound. Learning that fish only smell fishy when they start the decomposition process makes me more skeptical about eating fish because I don’t like the idea of eating a fish that smells knowing it’s decomposing.

No comments:

Post a Comment