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Breath sampling

Breath sampling is a valuable approach for obtaining information used for disease diagnosis, monitoring of metabolic stress and personal exposure to chemicals. Breath samples can be collected using a number of techniques, which can then be used with thermal desorption to extract and concentrate the VOCs, maximising sensitivity for analysis of trace-level target compounds while minimising interferences.


With the growing interest in breath monitoring, alternatives have emerged to the long-established use of Tedlar® bags for sampling breath.

Markes’ BioVOC-2™ is an easy-to-use device for sampling of VOCs in breath that transfers the volatiles directly onto sorbent tubes for analysis by thermal desorption

Another approach that uses sorbent tubes is the ReCIVA® Breath Sampler from Owlstone Medical, which is used in conjunction with Breath Biopsy® cartridges and masks. This device continuously collects breath for up to 10 minutes, allowing breath output to be monitored at the same time as preconcentrating the VOCs.

Benefits of breath sampling

  • Representative of VOCs in the bloodstream.
  • Non-invasive, unlike traditional blood and urine monitoring.
  • Eliminates time-consuming sample preparation prior to GC analysis.
  • Avoids the need for clinically trained personnel to collect samples.
  • Allows VOCs indicative of a variety of medical conditions to be rapidly profiled, including pulmonary disease, asthma, and asbestos-induced lung cancer.