Organoleptic characteristics are indicated in many instances because they may be useful and descriptive properties of substances. However, they are not meant to be applied as tests for identifying materials.
The inclusion of odor or taste among other descriptive properties may aid in identifying the causative agent following accidental exposure to or contact with a substance. This information is provided as a warning or to make an individual aware of sensations that may be encountered. The use of odor or taste as a test for identification or content is strongly discouraged.
The characteristic odor of a volatile substance becomes apparent immediately on opening a container of it. The odor may be agreeable (e.g., Peppermint Oil), unpleasant (e.g., Sulfur Dioxide), or potentially hazardous on prolonged exposure (e.g., Coal Tar). Moreover, an unexpected odor may be encountered if the characteristics of a substance are not known or if a container is incorrectly labeled. Consequently, containers of such substances should be opened cautiously, preferably in a well-ventilated fume hood. A characteristic taste or sensation produced in the oral cavity likewise is apparent if traces of residue materials on fingers are inadvertently brought into contact with the tongue or adjacent mucosal tissues.