Analysis of Expired VOCs

The Breath Analysis of Expired VOCs during Exercise markers in human breath for the determination of physiological events such as lactate threshold and oxidative stress remains a challenge for conventional ‘off-line’ gas analysis equipment, such as GCMS. The analysis of these types of samples often requires a rapid response, coupled with a wide dynamic range. The monitoring of breath VOCs has the potential to be an effective non-invasive tool for the real-time investigation of various physiological events.



The HPR-20 TMS Transient MS is ideal for this type of application as a result of its fast response, wide dynamic range and high sensitivity that is offered by the PIC detector. This equipment allows for the measurement of compounds to be conducted ‘breath-by-breath’, which is a significant improvement as compared to traditional ‘off-line’ techniques. Additional dynamic factors of this instrument, such as changes in breathing rate and end-tidal, could also be deduced.

Experimental Setup

The HPR-20 TMS was connected to a proprietary breathing mask through a customized adaptor that was optimized for high-speed analysis. Test subjects of varying ages and fitness levels performed a maximal exercise test on a stationary bicycle as their breath was monitored in real-time. The exercise test involved of a common physiological test known as a ‘ramp test’, which aims to ensure that the subject is exercising at their aerobic capacity.


The data obtained from the aforementioned experiments allowed the real-time tracking of multiple compounds that are produced in varying amounts during both aerobic and anaerobic respiration. The time resolution of 20 ms per data point allowed for the monitoring of the concentration of compounds present in each breath. Inflections were also visualized as data at points that could be related to physiological changes in the subject, such as the individual’s lactate threshold. Monitoring any changes in VOC compounds during physiological events is novel technique that has not been previously established.

Example data showing the real-time analysis of multiple compounds exhaled in human breath during an exercise test

Figure 2. Example data showing the real-time analysis of multiple compounds exhaled in human breath during an exercise test


The Hiden HPR-20 TMS has demonstrated its ability to be an ideal product for its high speed and high sensitivity analysis of various types of compounds present in human breath. The excellent response time and dynamic range offered by the HPR-20 allow the concentration changes of multiple compounds to be measured in real time. The real time analysis of the exhaled breath of various species is a novel research tool that can be useful for a wide variety of scientific studies in the future.

About Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical was founded in 1981 and is presently situated in a 2,130m2 manufacturing plant in Warrington, England with a staff of over 50. As a privately owned company, our reputation is built on creating close and positive relationships with their clients.

Hiden Analytical is committed to providing systems which meet specifications of both new and existing clients, but further, enable the advancement of their work, whether it be pure research or the improvements or monitoring of products and process performance.

They have a common vision, not only to supply the systems and instruments with first-class performance specifications, long term reliability and professional service support, but also, and in many cases more importantly, to maintain close contact to ensure that our systems provide all that our customers expect, and more, from their investment in our organisation.

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Last updated: Feb 18, 2019 at 9:00 AM


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