Ever wondered why you love the smell of gas? A new study gives us two potential answers.
Ever wondered why you can't resist taking in the smell of gasoline when filling up your fuel tank? There are two potential reasons why humans find the scent of gas so alluring, one of which is rather bizarre.
Citing a University of Liverpool (UOL) research study, The Drive reports two leading theories. The first is psychological and is based on Marcel Proust's premise. The Proust Phenomenon, named after the famed French novelist, hypothesizes that smell can trigger "vivid" special memories.
UOL researchers have stated that our olfactory system (the sensory function used for smelling) is close to the bits of our brain that deal with memory and emotion. Based on this proximity, it's possible that those who enjoy the smell of gas associate cherished moments with the smell of gas.
This could be anything, from the moment you took the hand-me-down Toyota Corolla out for your first drive or memories of your dad filling the minivan while on holiday.
The second reason is a bit darker and relies on a physiological theory. If you're not aware, gasoline contains very fine amounts of benzene. UOL researchers hypothesized that the benzene numbs our mesolimbic system (also known as the reward pathway), giving one a pleasant sensation for a brief moment.
Benzene can also be found in glue, tobacco smoke, and paint. It's worth noting all these things have a scent some people find appealing. The chemical isn't exactly good for your health as you would expect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, taking in high levels of benzene can lead to symptoms including headaches, tremors, an irregular heartbeat, and even unconsciousness.
If you enjoy sniffing fumes at the local gas station, fear not. Benzene makes up a tiny part of gasoline. But with this in mind, we wouldn't recommend it.
Last year, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) conducted a study that found more than half the American population had been exposed to high levels of lead in their early childhood. This has led to a combined loss of 824,097,690 IQ points since 2015.
Thanks to BMW, we may not have to savor the smell of gasoline fumes for much longer. Based on a patent filing discovered by CarBuzz, the luxury automaker is working on an exterior air freshener that will emit a fragrance when the vehicle detects the key. It's an exciting concept; perhaps it will take over from gasoline fumes when we're all in the electric era.
Join The Discussion