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Danger! Danger! Don't clean that office fridge...

May 13, 2009 | 11:28 am

No, one shouldn't laugh, this is seriousahahaha...Tuesday morning, a long-forgotten lunch in an office fridge at an At&T call center in San Jose so nauseated employees that the hazmat guys were brought in, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News, and "325 AT&T employees poured out to a parking lot that was the company's designated evacuation site. A total of 50 firefighters and 18 emergency vehicles raced to the scene. Seven employees, who were vomiting or complaining of nausea, were treated at area hospitals."

The article doesn't say what the long-forgotten food item used to be, although meat was suspected because of the telltale aroma of rotting flesh.

What is it, anyway, that makes rotting flesh so nasty to us? Probably it's innate, for obvious survival reasons. Rotting flesh can make people sick. In an article about odors in Scientific American, writer Jesse Bering notes: "Rotting flesh ... [is] only perceived this way by the human mind .... I can assure you that whatever particular scents you find repulsive, my dog, Gulliver, would likely perceive as irresistibly appealing. And I mean rotting flesh and just about anything else you can think of."

You might also be interested to know that scientist Pam Dalton at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia concocted, a few years back, what may be the world's worst smell (with Department of Defense funding .. the department had a weapon in mind). Here's a write-up Aaron Zitner of the Los Angeles Times did on her work that begins:

"Pamela Dalton has uncorked the foulest smell on earth. It comes from one of the vials that Dalton keeps under a ventilated hood in her laboratory, where the bottles carry impish labels: Burned Hair. Bathroom Malodor. And worst of all, Stench Soup, an odor so reeking of ripe Porta Potties -- or is it dead possum? -- that it fills the mind with white noise. 'That one takes over every aspect of your consciousness,' Dalton says proudly of her creation, made in search of the world's most offensive odor."

-- Rosie Mestel

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