A longitudinal study of methanol in the exhaled breath of 30 healthy volunteers using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, SIFT-MS
Selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, SIFT-MS, has been used to monitor the volatile compounds in the exhaled breath of 30 volunteers (19 male, 11 female) over a six-month period. Volunteers provided breath samples each week between 8:45 am and 1 pm (before lunch), and the concentrations of several trace compounds were obtained. In this paper the focus is on methanol in breath. The median methanol level determined using the H3O+ precursor ions for all samples was 461 parts-per-billion (ppb), the concentrations for all the samples ranging from 32 to 1684 ppb. The distribution of breath methanol concentration is seen to be log-normal for this healthy population; the geometric mean was 450 ppb, close to the median value, and the multiplicative (geometric) standard deviation was 1.62. Breath methanol is not correlated with age, breath ethanol or ethanol consumed in the previous 24 h, but there was an inverse correlation with body mass index (BMI) for the cohort of volunteers recruited for this study. Observed breath methanol levels are well compatible with the previously published blood methanol levels. Some tentative suggestions are made concerning the origin of endogenous methanol.