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J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2006 Mar 7;832(2):274-9. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

Analysis of expired air of fasting male monks at Mount Athos.

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National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), School of Chemical Engineering, Sector I, 9 Iroon Polytechniou Street, Athens 15773, Greece.


Expired air chemical analysis is investigated as a search and locate method for the early detection of entrapped people under the ruins of collapsed buildings after an earthquake. Fasting individuals were examined as a group that simulates the medical status of some of such victims. Exhaled air from seven fasting male monks (after 63 h) was analysed using thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS) analysis. Over 150 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were identified and the 43 most frequent are presented. Acetone showed by far the highest "positive alveolar gradient". Other compounds included phenol, di-limonene, 2-pentanone, isoprene and acetaldehyde. Quantitative results showed a 30-fold increase of acetone concentration (5.8 ppmv) compared to control measurements of a volunteer. Breath acetone was also identified through a portable gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometer showing possible, under certain conditions, effectiveness of the method in the field.

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