Human Breath Analysis

The analysis of physiological events can be performed in real-time, in a safe, non-invasive way by monitoring breath VOCs. VOCs can be a marker for lactate threshold and oxidative stress, but because of the wide dynamic range and fast response times needed, the analysis can be difficult for conventional ‘off-line’ gas analysis equipment.

The HPR-20 Transient MS can be used to circumvent these issues as it tackles both of the challenges mentioned and is also equipped with a highly sensitive PIC detector.

It can measure compounds breath-by-breath because of this, so it is much better than that provided by traditional ‘off-line’ methods, together with some other factors like breathing rate and end tidal.

Experimental setup

A group of subjects with various fitness levels and ages was utilized for the test. They were set a maximal exercise test on a stationary bicycle, and in order to push the subject to their aerobic capacity, the resistance of the bicycle was ramped up over time.

The subject was fitted with a proprietary breathing mask throughout the test; it was in turn connected to the HPR-20 TMS via a customized adaptor that was optimized for high speed analysis.

The Hiden HPR-20 Transient MS

Figure 1. The Hiden HPR-20 Transient MS. Image Credit: Hiden Analytical


During the experiment, the setup of the equipment enabled data to be gathered and investigated in real time, with various compounds being tracked as they were generated in different volumes during anaerobic and aerobic respiration.

Every breath taken by the subjects could be monitored for concentration of compounds as each data point only took 20 ms to be analyzed. Other physiological alterations, like lactate threshold, could be interpreted from the inflections in the data points.

This fast monitoring and analysis of VOC compounds during physiological events is novel and is not easily done using other techniques. Figure 2 shows the quick response of the HPR-20 Transient MS as each breath is tracked.

Example data showing the real-time analysis of muliple 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. Image Credit: Hiden Analytical

Parameters like end tidal and breathing rate can be readily deduced, which is In contrast to conventional off-line methods.


  • The dynamic range and fast response time provided by the HPR- 20 enables the concentration alterations of multiple compounds to be measured in real time.
  • The Hiden HPR-20 TMS has been shown to be the ideal product for high sensitivity, high speed analysis of compounds in human breath.
  • The real time analysis of exhaled species is a novel research tool.

About Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical was founded in 1981 and is presently situated in a 2,130 m2 manufacturing plant in Warrington, England with a staff of over 50. As a privately owned company their reputation is built on creating close and positive relationships with their clients. Many of these customers are working at the forefront of new technology - in the fields of plasma research, surface science, vacuum processing and gas analysis. To maintain this reputation we have, over the years, established exceptional levels of technical expertise in these areas within the company.

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. Hiden Analytical 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 their organisation.

Hiden has had an ISO 9001 Quality System since 27 June 1995, registered through National Quality Assurance Ltd., which itself is accredited by the UK’s national standardisation agency UKAS (UK Accreditation Service). The system has been reviewed since then by assessor visits every nine months, including on-site installation. The Quality System was upgraded to the new ISO 9000:2000 standard in late 2002.

Other notable products cover residual gas analysis to ultra high vacuum (UHV) levels with the HAL series of quadrupole mass spectrometers. For plasma diagnostics, the EQP combined mass / energy analyser and ESPION advanced Langmuir probe are market leaders. Gas and liquid analysis from atmospheric pressure or process pressures is achieved by the QIC series of instruments incorporating the acclaimed quartz inlet capillary (QIC). The latest development is the CATLAB microreactor module for the combined roles of catalyst characterisation and rapid, reproducible screening of catalyst activity.

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Last updated: Mar 16, 2021 at 11:43 AM


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