Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 7, pp 1607–1619 | Cite as

Comparison of the Volatile Organic Compounds Present in Human Odor Using Spme-GC/MS

  • Allison M. Curran
  • Scott I. Rabin
  • Paola A. Prada
  • Kenneth G. Furton


We evaluated the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in human odor by using headspace solid phase microextraction gas chromatography–mass spectrometry for the extraction, separation, and analysis of the collected samples. Volatile organic compounds present in the headspace above axillary sweat samples collected from different individuals showed the presence of various types of compounds including organic fatty acids, ketones, aldehydes, esters, and alcohols. Qualitative differences and similarities noted between the males and females studied along with differences in chemical ratio patterns among the common compounds demonstrated the ability to differentiate between individuals through the examination of VOCs.

Key Words

Human scent odor uniqueness of odor profiles axillary sweat absorbent material cotton absorbers VOCs SFE headspace SPME SPME-GC/MS 


  1. Asano, K. G., Bayne, C. K., Horsman, K. M., Buchanan, M. V. 2002Chemical composition of fingerprints for gender determinationJ. Forensic Sci.47805807PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bernier, U. R., Booth, M. W., Yost, R. A. 1999Analysis of human skin emanations by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. 1. Thermal desorption of attractants for the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) from handled glass beadsAnal. Chem.7117PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernier, U. R., Kline, D. L., Barnard, D. R., Schreck, C. E., Yost, R. A. 2000Analysis of human skin emanations by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Part 2: Identification of volatile compounds that are candidate attractants for the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti)Anal. Chem.72747756PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bernier, U. R., Kline, D. L., Schreck, C. E., Yost, R. A., Barnard, D. R. 2002Chemical analysis of human skin emanations: Comparison of volatiles from humans that differ in attraction Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae)J. Am. Mosq. Control Assoc.18186195PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Curran, A. M. and Furton, K. G. 2004. Optimization of collection and storage methods for scent evidence and the identification of the volatile components comprising an individual human odor signature. Poster Presentation: American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas.Google Scholar
  6. Curran, A. M., Rabin, S. I., Furton, K. G. 2005Analysis of the uniqueness and persistence of human scentForensic Sci. Commun.72Google Scholar
  7. Deng, C., Zhang, X., Li, N. 2004Investigation of biomarkers in lung cancer blood using solid-phase microextraction and capillary gas chromatography–mass spectrometryJ. Chromatogr., B808269277Google Scholar
  8. Haze, S., Gozu, Y., Nakamura, S., Sawano, K., Ohta, H., Yamazaki, K. 20012-Nonenal newly found in human body odor tends to increase with agingJ. Invest. Dermatol.116520524PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Kanda, F., Yagi, E., Fukuda, M., Nakajima, K., Ohta, T., Nakata, O. 1990Elucidation of chemical compounds responsible for foot malodourBr. J. Dermatol.122771776PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Munk, S., Much, P., Stahnke, L., Adler-Nissen, J., Schieberle, P. 2000Primary odorants of laundry soiled with sweat/sebum: Influence of lipase on the odor profileJ. Surfactants Deterg.3505515Google Scholar
  11. Ostrovskaya, A., Landa, P. A., Sokolinsky, M., Rosalia, A. D., Maes, D. 2002The study and identification of volatile compounds from human skinJ. Cosmet. Sci.53147148Google Scholar
  12. Philips, M. 1997Method for the collection and assay of volatile organic compounds in breathAnal. Biochem.247272278PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Philips, M., Gleeson, K., Hughes, J. M. B., Greenburg, J., Cantaneo, R. N., Baker, L., McVay, W. P. 1999Volatile organic compounds in breath as markers of lung cancer: A cross sectional studyLancet35319301933PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Ramotowski, R. S. 2001Lee, H. C.Gaensslen, R. E. eds. Advances in Fingerprint Technology2CRC PressBoca Raton63104Google Scholar
  15. Zeng, X. N., Leyden, J. J., Lawley, H. J., Sawano, K., Nohara, I., Preti, G. 1991Analysis of characteristic odors from human male axillaeJ. Chem. Ecol.1714691492Google Scholar
  16. Zeng, X. N., Leyden, J. J., Spielman, A. I., Preti, G. 1996Analysis of characteristic human female axillary odors: Qualitative comparison to malesJ. Chem. Ecol.22237257Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison M. Curran
    • 1
  • Scott I. Rabin
    • 1
  • Paola A. Prada
    • 1
  • Kenneth G. Furton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, International Forensic Research InstituteFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

Personalised recommendations