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Free Radic Biol Med. 1999 Sep;27(5-6):560-71.

A practical and reliable method for measuring ethane and pentane in expired air from humans.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, USA.


We describe a method for the collection of expired air and further document the performance of our analytical technique that is used to measure ethane and pentane simultaneously. Four minutes of breathing hydrocarbon-free air before collection effectively removed high concentrations of residual ambient ethane and pentane from the lungs, with washout times up to 30 min resulting in no further reductions in breath hydrocarbons. Mean (+/-SE) exhalation rates (pmol/kg b.wt./min) in 11 subjects were 2.4 +/- 0.6 for ethane and 1.5 +/- 1.3 for pentane. Total intraindividual variability in exhalation rates (as percent coefficient of variation, %CV), measured from 4 subjects on at least 6 different days, was greater for pentane (44% CV) than for ethane (29% CV). Analytical variability contributed 6% to the total %CV. Advantages of the method are described, and reasons for the large variability in values reported in the literature are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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