The relative occurrence of volatile organic compounds in the human respiratory gas is disease-specific (ppb range). A prototype of a gas analysing device using two tuneable laser systems, an OPO-laser (2.5 to 10 µm) and a CO2-laser (9 to 11 µm), and an optoacoustic measurement cell was developed to detect concentrations in the ppb range. The sensitivity and resolution of the system was determined by test gas measurements, measuring ethylene and sulfur hexafluoride with the CO2-laser and butane with the OPO-laser. System sensitivity found to be 13 ppb for sulfur hexafluoride, 17 ppb for ethylene and <10 ppb for butane, with a resolution of 50 ppb at minimum for sulfur hexafluoride.
Respiratory gas samples of 8 healthy volunteers were investigated by irradiation with 17 laser lines of the CO2-laser. Several of those lines overlap with strong absorption bands of ammonia. As it is known that ammonia concentration increases by age a separation of people <35 und >35 was striven for. To evaluate the data the first seven gas samples were used to train a discriminant analysis algorithm. The eighth subject was then assigned correctly to the group >35 years with the age of 49 years.
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