What is the half-life of a fart?


peapod
#1
I saw this at another board

If you captured a particularly putrid gaseous expulsion into an air-tight container, how long would the offensive odor "live"?

Second question.
While I have no background in science, my understanding is that inhaling dubious amounts of almost any gas causes a detrimental effect. What is the threshold where inhaling farts may cause apparent, if not permanent damage? Does such inhalation have a cummulative effect?
Anyone know anything about fartoglogy? how about flatulence theory? No pooternomics please!
 
Frappuccino Dibs
#2
I draw your attention to the following articles explaining the dangers of the gases that provide the smell in a Whizzpop, namely hydrogen-sulphide gases and Mercaptans:

What Are Mercaptans
Mercaptans are a group of sulfur-containing organic chemical substances. They smell like rotting cabbage, and are, for the most part, what make pulp mills smell like pulp mills. If mercaptans are in the air, even at low concentrations, they are very noticeable.

Pulp mills are the chief source of mercaptans, although they are also found in production processes of some pesticides, pharmaceuticals and petroleum products. They are also used as an odourizing agent in natural gas. The human body produces them naturally during digestion of beer, garlic and some other foods.

Dangers of Mercaptans
Not very much is known about the dangers of mercaptans, but current research shows that mercaptans are less poisonous than hydrogen sulfide (the gas that smells like rotten eggs).

.....and theres more:

Hydrogen sulphide
This gas is most likely to be involved in fatal accidents. It is a clear gas with a characteristic smell of rotten eggs. Its smell cannot be used as an indicator of the gas being present. Remember no smell could actually indicate a high concentration of hydrogen sulphide rather than its absence. Lack of smell is not a guide to the absence of the gas as the sense of smell is lost at high concentrations.

The Exposure Limit for hydrogen sulphide gas is 15 parts per million (ppm). This means that the concentration in the air measured over a 15 minute period should never be higher than 15 parts per million and indeed levels should be kept as low as possible. It should be noted that gas levels of over 2000 ppm at slat level have been recorded, indicating a lethal level of gas, which can cause rapid death.

So providing you don't float an air biscuit that contains more than 2000ppm of Hydrogen-Sulphide you should be safe. As for the life span of the smell - I have no idea, although some of those particularly sneeky ones can last a long time under the bed covers.
 
Twila
#3
Pea, you may find this site useful for answering those questions.
The Microbiology of belches and farts (who new this would even exist!)
www.microbe.org/news/gassy.asp (external - login to view)

MSDS on Methane gas. This will answer that burning question of what happens if you are addicted to fart huffing.

ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/ME/methane.html (external - login to view)
 
Dexter Sinister
#4
I'd bet the offensive odour would live forever if you trapped it in a jar, they're pretty stable compounds. It's only dilution and diffusion that makes the odour go away; the concentration is reduced below the threshold of detectability.

Trivia time: Mercaptans are also what skunks produce. Their particular specialty is n-butyl mercaptan, what my chemistry books describe as one of a family of "strongly aromatic compounds." Right, nice euphemism. The name is from the Latin mercurium captans; the old alchemists discovered they absorb mercury.
 
peapod
#5
When I would complain to my papa about my brothers methane experiments, he gave me a good tip. If I started feeling lightheaded, get out of the room :P
There were a nasty bunch, those brothers. :P There favorite thing to do was try to set the methane off with a match
I like that "aromatic compounds" its so polite, I think even my mother would approve
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#6
A pretty funny Salon article on the subject of farts:

archive.salon.com/health/feat...rts/index.html (external - login to view)
 
peapod
#7
That was hilarious haggis. All that science in farting :P Now I think I will have a can of beans for lunch.

Flatuently yours
podpea
 
Haggis McBagpipe
#8
!! I was thinking the same thing! Beans definitely seem the ticket in order to study first-hand the rather breakthtaking matter of gas research.
 

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