Skip to main content
Log in

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

  • Published:
Journal of Chemical Ecology Aims and scope Submit manuscript


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others


  • K. G. Asano C. K. Bayne K. M. Horsman M. V. Buchanan (2002) ArticleTitleChemical composition of fingerprints for gender determination J. Forensic Sci. 47 805–807 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DC%2BD38XlvFOqsLo%3D Occurrence Handle12136987

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • U. R. Bernier M. W. Booth R. A. Yost (1999) ArticleTitleAnalysis of human skin emanations by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. 1. Thermal desorption of attractants for the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) from handled glass beads Anal. Chem. 71 1–7 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DyaK1cXnsV2rs7k%3D Occurrence Handle9921122

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • U. R. Bernier D. L. Kline D. R. Barnard C. E. Schreck R. A. Yost (2000) ArticleTitleAnalysis 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. 72 747–756 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DyaK1MXotVOmsr0%3D Occurrence Handle10701259

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • U. R. Bernier D. L. Kline C. E. Schreck R. A. Yost D. R. Barnard (2002) ArticleTitleChemical analysis of human skin emanations: Comparison of volatiles from humans that differ in attraction Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) J. Am. Mosq. Control Assoc. 18 186–195 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DC%2BD38XnslCruro%3D Occurrence Handle12322940

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

  • A. M. Curran S. I. Rabin K. G. Furton (2005) ArticleTitleAnalysis of the uniqueness and persistence of human scent Forensic Sci. Commun. 7 2

    Google Scholar 

  • C. Deng X. Zhang N. Li (2004) ArticleTitleInvestigation of biomarkers in lung cancer blood using solid-phase microextraction and capillary gas chromatography–mass spectrometry J. Chromatogr., B 808 269–277

    Google Scholar 

  • S. Haze Y. Gozu S. Nakamura K. Sawano H. Ohta K. Yamazaki (2001) ArticleTitle2-Nonenal newly found in human body odor tends to increase with aging J. Invest. Dermatol. 116 520–524 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3MXivFGlsLc%3D Occurrence Handle11286617

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • F. Kanda E. Yagi M. Fukuda K. Nakajima T. Ohta O. Nakata (1990) ArticleTitleElucidation of chemical compounds responsible for foot malodour Br. J. Dermatol. 122 771–776 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DyaK3MXhs1ajs74%3D Occurrence Handle2369557

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • S. Munk P. Much L. Stahnke J. Adler-Nissen P. Schieberle (2000) ArticleTitlePrimary odorants of laundry soiled with sweat/sebum: Influence of lipase on the odor profile J. Surfactants Deterg. 3 505–515 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DC%2BD3cXnsl2gur0%3D

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • A. Ostrovskaya P. A. Landa M. Sokolinsky A. D. Rosalia D. Maes (2002) ArticleTitleThe study and identification of volatile compounds from human skin J. Cosmet. Sci. 53 147–148 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DC%2BD38XovFWgs7Y%3D

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • M. Philips (1997) ArticleTitleMethod for the collection and assay of volatile organic compounds in breath Anal. Biochem. 247 272–278 Occurrence Handle9177688

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • M. Philips K. Gleeson J. M. B. Hughes J. Greenburg R. N. Cantaneo L. Baker W. P. McVay (1999) ArticleTitleVolatile organic compounds in breath as markers of lung cancer: A cross sectional study Lancet 353 1930–1933 Occurrence Handle10371572

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • R. S. Ramotowski (2001) NoChapterTitle H. C. Lee R. E. Gaensslen (Eds) Advances in Fingerprint Technology EditionNumber2 CRC Press Boca Raton 63–104

    Google Scholar 

  • X. N. Zeng J. J. Leyden H. J. Lawley K. Sawano I. Nohara G. Preti (1991) ArticleTitleAnalysis of characteristic odors from human male axillae J. Chem. Ecol. 17 1469–1492 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DyaK3MXmt1yqtLY%3D

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • X. N. Zeng J. J. Leyden A. I. Spielman G. Preti (1996) ArticleTitleAnalysis of characteristic human female axillary odors: Qualitative comparison to males J. Chem. Ecol. 22 237–257 Occurrence Handle1:CAS:528:DyaK28XhvFSjsr8%3D

    CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kenneth G. Furton.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Curran, A.M., Rabin, S.I., Prada, P.A. et al. Comparison of the Volatile Organic Compounds Present in Human Odor Using Spme-GC/MS. J Chem Ecol 31, 1607–1619 (2005).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key Words