Monitoring of selected skin- and breath-borne volatile organic compounds emitted from the human body using gas chromatography ion mobility spectrometry (GC-IMS)

Paweł Mochalski, Helmut Wiesenhofer, Maria Allers, Stefan Zimmermann, Andreas T. Güntner, Nicolay J. Pineau, Wolfgang Lederer, Agapios Agapiou, Christopher A. Mayhew, Veronika Ruzsanyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Human smuggling and associated cross-border crimes have evolved as a major challenge for the European Union in recent years. Of particular concern is the increasing trend of smuggling migrants hidden inside shipping containers or trucks. Therefore, there is a growing demand for portable security devices for the non-intrusive and rapid monitoring of containers to detect people hiding inside. In this context, chemical analysis of volatiles organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from the human body is proposed as a locating tool. In the present study, an in-house made ion mobility spectrometer coupled with gas chromatography (GC-IMS) was used to monitor the volatile moieties released from the human body under conditions that mimic entrapment. A total of 17 omnipresent volatile compounds were identified and quantified from 35 ion mobility peaks corresponding to human presence. These are 7 aldehydes (acrolein, 2-methylpropanal, 3-methylbutanal, 2-ethacrolein, n-hexanal, n-heptanal, benzaldehyde), 3 ketones (acetone, 2-pentanone, 4-methyl-2-pentanone), 5 esters (ethyl formate, ethyl propionate, vinyl butyrate, butyl acetate, ethyl isovalerate), one alcohol (2-methyl-1-propanol) and one organic acid (acetic acid). The limits of detection (0.05–7.2 ppb) and relative standard deviations (0.6–11%) should be sufficient for detecting these markers of human presence in field conditions. This study shows that GC-IMS can be used as a portable field detector of hidden or entrapped people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-34
JournalJournal of Chromatography. B, Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
Volume1076
Early online date13 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • volatile organic compounds
  • ion mobility spectrometry
  • GC-IMS
  • entrapped victims
  • human smuggling
  • human occupancy detection

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