Help Wanted: Professional Fart-Smeller

professional fart smeller
A professional fart-smeller must endure some occupational hazards. (Image credit: dreamstime)

There are a lot of bad jobs out there, and maybe you're convinced that yours is one of them. But here's a job description that virtually nobody would likely be jealous of: professional fart-smeller.

Some Chinese who practice alternative medicine apparently believe that each person's flatulence has particular nuances — bitter, savory, sweet, fishy — and these undertones can be used to detect diseases by a trained expert with a sharp sense of smell, according to Rocket News 24. An unusually meaty smell, for example, might be interpreted as an indication of intestinal bleeding or tumors.

Oddly enough, some scientific research suggests that using farts as a diagnostic tool isn't as far-fetched as it might sound. Dogs, for example, have been trained to detect the presence of prostate cancer from smelling patients' urine samples. In another study, dogs were able to identify the stool samples of colorectal cancer patients with 97 percent accuracy.

Additionally, researchers have found that people are able to determine, with some degree of accuracy, what someone's personality is like based on their particular body odor.

But before you rush off to join the legions of Chinese practitioners who are on this lucrative career path (the job reportedly pays about US$50,000 a year), remember that it's a rather exclusive club. Only people ages 18 to 45 can be accredited as fart-smellers; they must be free of any nasal impairment or disease and refrain from all smoking and alcohol, according to Rocket Science 24.

Then there's the lengthy training program and the accreditation test — and that's one final exam most of us would probably be happy to skip.

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Marc Lallanilla
Live Science Contributor
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at and a producer with His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.