872 Volatile Compounds in Human Breath


Cinema audiences reproducibly vary the chemical composition of air during films, by broadcasting scene specific emissions on breath

All living organisms from the smallest plants and bacteria to trees and primates emit chemicals into their local environment1,2,3,4. Such chemicals may act as signals, eliciting wide ranging responses5,6. The atmosphere has been shown to be an effective conduit for chemical communication between plants and plants7, plants and insects8, insects and insects9…

Of the 872 volatile compounds identified in human breath1, a fraction is thought to be produced endogenously. These compounds can be used to track chemical changes within the body, over long (with age)21,22 and short timescales (medication response, food, disease or exercise)2,23,24,25. Within this cinema based study we hypothesize that if films elicit strong emotional responses then volatile products from the internal biochemical response (cardiovascular, skeletomuscular, neuroendocrine, and autonomic nervous system)26,27 may be vented shortly afterwards over the lungs, and observed as transient peaks in concentration in air exiting the cinema.

I think the thing that struck me about this was the sheer number: 872 volatile compounds in human breath. That’s almost as many chemicals as there are supposed to be in  tobacco smoke.

And that’s just the volatile compounds. It’s almost as if breathing is just as bad as smoking. In fact worse, because we all continually belch out thousands of chemicals all day every day throughout our entire lives. Smokers don’t smoke continuously. And they don’t smoke when they’re asleep. The only difference is that you can see tobacco smoke, and you usually can’t see breath.

And of course some of them will be carcinogenic compounds, probably the same ones in tobacco smoke. In which case, maybe 70 years of breathing will cause lung cancer just as effectively as 30 or 40 years of smoking?


About Frank Davis

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5 Responses to 872 Volatile Compounds in Human Breath

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank they found 3500 chemicals in spectrometry of human breath and yes those chemicals are pretty much what’s found in tobacco smoke already and as we know only about 800 or so chemicals have actually been trapped and identified in tobacco smoke! So when do they start outlawing humans from indoors? Then outlaw plants, humans, cars in fact nature itself all emit basically what all vegetative matter does.

  2. Joe L. says:

    FYI Frank, I believe you’re missing an ‘8’ at the front of the title of this post. The title currently reads “72 Volatile Compounds…” which is more than an order of magnitude lower than the 872 compounds mentioned in the article.

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    Frank, The fear of smoking look more and more like superstition. The tobacco control cult appears to have promoted antismoking agenda to sate their fears. Now the march toward prohibition continues, but as the efforts toward a ‘tobacco free end state’ escalate the tobacco control project starts to unravel. Tobacco control is fragile because it is built on a house of lies.

    Consider the following tow opposing indicators:

    1) In Australia another step toward total prohibition “Queensland health minister open to lifetime smoking ban for those born after 2001” http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/may/15/queensland-health-minister-open-to-lifetime-smoking-ban-for-those-born-after-2001

    2) In Ireland a health official call for indoor smoking in pubs. “JUNIOR HEALTH MINISTER WANTS SMOKING BAN RELAXED: http://www.todayfm.com/Junior-Health-Minister-wants-smoking-ban-relaxed

  4. Liberty says:

    Dr. Farsalinos once reported that vapers exhale less compounds than never smokers/vapers. He didn’t mention smokers, only vapers, his specialty. Where oh where is the comparison for smokers vs never smokers? Ha. There isn’t one, no doubt.

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