Pong-ology: Sniffing out a cure for iffy whiffs

2019-03-01 12:17:00

By Clare Wilson MEL ROSENBERG is one of those people you might regret making small talk with at a party. “When people find out what I do for a living they tend to step away,” he tells me. And no wonder: Rosenberg is a big cheese in the world of bad breath. You can see his problem – who would want to breathe into the face of the world’s top halitosis researcher? Fortunately Rosenberg is well out of sniffing range. He is based in Israel, at Tel Aviv University, and I am interviewing him by phone, trying to find out why some parts of the human body are so smelly, and what can be done about it. Let’s face it: people can pong. Even if you haven’t got bad breath, your armpits probably smell from time to time, and so do your feet. And though you may not own up to it, everybody farts. Check out the average bathroom and you’ll see the amount of time, effort and money that goes into eliminating bodily odours. But our methods can be crude. Aside from washing regularly, often all we do is daub ourselves with fragrances. “Masking”, or covering up bad smells with nice ones, works OK, but these days there are more sophisticated strategies to tackle odours at source, thanks to people like Rosenberg and his fellow microbiologists. “There are probably a few dozen compounds responsible for bad smells,