The issue of "bad air" was on the high agenda, as it was believed to lead to dangerous contagious illnesses; the doctors were found to have engaged themselves for the solutions of cleaning the air through the means of various fragrances. The mountain air came into light for the preservation of public health with restriction of urban malodors by whatever possible ways. Then during the first half of the 19th century for health goodwill, the absence of any odor instead of good odor was conceived as a more welcoming sign. Therefore, heavy perfumes were rejected and application of light fragrances like flowers accepted; the woman's charm was especially smelled as a natural element. The men almost stopped the use of perfumes while women too kept her skin away from it. This craze was later replaced by the deodorization. The subject matter of sanitation was expanded with new theories from the perspective of public wellbeing related to the cleanliness. "The first, Alain Corbin's tour de force The foul and the Fragrant (1986), originally published in French in 1982, not only focused on scent and the phenomenology of everyday life but drew out the profound influence of odors upon major social, political and cultural events during Frances's modernization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries".
The term vigilance may describe more the actions rather than any sense or taste. The sense of smell can be associated with many other words such as attention, awareness, or consciousness; and when put together with the word olfactory it becomes olfactory awareness or so on. But, Alain Corbin has skillfully chosen "Olfactory Vigilance" to best suit the French social environment of that time. Through this term - olfactory vigilance, he explores the behavioral and emotional patterns of the people of that period; this greatly influenced the relationships amongst the people as well as the classes and groups of people. Moreover, people used to engage themselves in findings of meaning, creating dispute, or having opinion differences for more or less proving themselves to be powerful; and this also touched the theme of smells.
Corbin writes that this olfactory vigilance came into being through scientific approach involving scientist, doctors, chemist, etc. who established that the origin and spread of disease were due to the ignorance about the various odors; and also that the proper diagnoses and treatments of the same could be achieved through adequate awareness and control of odors. The gases emerged for latrines, cesspools, pits, corpses, etc. were classified on account of their bad odors. Corbin talks about an expedition undertaken by Microbiologist Halle who walked alongside the riverbank in an environment marked greatly by unhealthy odors. Halle proved his concept about the relationship between the public health and the poor condition of the river. The science had actually been concerned about these odors since a long time before, but the extent to which the treatment started to be carried out was distinctive. The distinction was sought out between intolerable and acceptable; this led the odors to be smelled more "olfactorily" -