Time series of indoor analytes and influence of exogeneous factors on interpretation of breath analysis using ion mobility spectrometry (MCC/IMS)

  • Michael WesthoffEmail author
  • M. Rickermann
  • E. Franieck
  • P. Littterst
  • J. I. Baumbach
Original Research


Standardisation of breath sampling is important for application of breath analysis in clinical settings. By studying the effect of room airing on indoor and breath analytes and by generating time series of room air with different sampling intervals we sought to get further insights into room air metabolism, to detect the relevance of exogenous VOCs and to make conclusions about their consideration for the interpretation of exhaled breath. Room air and exhaled breath of a healthy subject were analysed before and after room airing. Furthermore a time series of room air with doors and windows closed was taken over 84 h by an automatic sampling every 180 min. A second times series studied room air analytes over 70 h with samples taken every 16.5 min. For breath and room air measurements an IMS coupled to a multi-capillary column (IMS/MCC) [Bio-Scout® - B&S Analytik GmbH, Dortmund, Germany] was used. The peaks were characterized using the Software Visual Now (B&S Analytik, Dortmund Germany) and identified using the software package MIMA (version 1.1, provided by the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, Saarbrücken, Germany) and the database 20160426_SubstanzDbNIST_122 (B & S Analytik GmbH, Dortmund, Germany). In the morning 4 analytes (Decamethylcylopentasiloxane [541-02-6]; Pentan-2-one [107-87-9] – Dimer; Hexan-1-al [66-25-1]; Pentan-2-one [107-87-9]) – Monomer showed high intensities in the room air and exhaled breath. They were significantly but not equally reduced by room airing. The time series about 84 h showed a time dependent decrease of analytes (limonen-monomer and -dimer; Decamethylcylopentasiloxane, Butan-1-ol, Butan-1-ol) as well as increase (Pentan-2-one [107-87-9] – Dimer). Shorter sampling intervals exhibited circadian variations of analyte concentrations for many analytes. Breath sampling in the morning needs room airing before starting. Then the variation of the intensity of indoor analytes can be kept small. The time series of indoor analytes show, that their intensities have a different behaviour, with time dependent declines, constant increases and circadian variations, dependent on room airing. This has implications on the breath sampling procedure and the intrepretation of exhaled breath.


Ion mobility spectrometry Room air Exhaled breath 



The authors thank Mrs. B. Obertrifter, Lung Clinic Hemer, for her valuable technical assistance in MCC/IMS studies.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

JIBB declared to be an employee of a company producing spectrometers used. There are no other conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Westhoff
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. Rickermann
    • 3
  • E. Franieck
    • 4
  • P. Littterst
    • 1
  • J. I. Baumbach
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Pneumology, Sleep and Respiratory MedicineHemer Lung ClinicHemerGermany
  2. 2.Witten/Herdecke UniversityWittenGermany
  3. 3.University of Applied SciencesMünsterGermany
  4. 4.B. Braun Melsungen AG Center of Competence Breath Analysis, BioMedizinZentrum DortmundDortmundGermany
  5. 5.Faculty of Applied ChemistryReutlingen UniversityReutlingenGermany

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