Butyl mercaptan is a contaminant and degradation product of the restricted use cotton defoliants, DEF (tributyl phosphorotrithioate) and Folex (tributyl phosphorotrithioite, and it is described as having a potent skunk-like odor with a detection threshold as low as 0.0001 ppm.
Butyl mercaptan is a flavoring agent (Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association number 3478; Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives number 511) which, at a concentration of 1 ppm in the flavor medium, has a taste described as "sulfureous, vegetative, savory meaty, garlic and onion."
Ames, R.G. and Gregson, J.: Mortality following cotton defoliation: San Juaquin Valley, California, 1970-1990. J. Occup. Environ. Med.37(7): 812-819, 1995.
Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Butyl Mercaptan. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 418-419.
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