Swiss researchers investigate unique breathprints

April 5, 2013 - 

Swiss researchers have discovered a way to identify humans through their unique breathprints.

In a research paper titled, Human Breath Analysis May Support the Existence of Individual Metabolic Phenotypes, researchers conclude that individual signatures of breath composition exist, suitable enough to identify humans.

Reported in Plos One, eleven subjects were included in this study and during the course of the study, did not change their routine life style.  For nine days subjects’ breaths were measured, averaging 18 measurements each for the duration of the study.

Participants were asked to breathe through a heated Teflon tube connected to the curtain gas port of a quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer. Each time, a subject provided a full exhalation, while keeping pressure. This provided for realtime analysis of the breathprint samples, as the spectrometer split the exhalation into its chemical components.

Though the researchers noticed slight changes between samples, a core signature remained, which the researchers believe could facilitate human identification.

Researchers on this project include Pablo Martinex-Lozano Sinues, and Renato Zenobi from ETH Zurich, Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, and Malcolm Kohler from the Pulminary Division of the University Hospital Zurich.

Rawlson King, contributing editor at, recently wrote “Make Way For Knobbly Kneed ID… Or Who’s This Ear?“, an article about other unlikely measures of identity such as knees and ears, and how they could soon rival fingerprints as personal identification.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj