Temporal profiling of human urine VOCs and its potential role under the ruins of collapsed buildings


Context: The scent profile of human urine was investigated as potential source of chemical markers of human presence in collapsed buildings after natural or man-made disasters. Objective: The main goals of this study were to build a library of potential biomarkers of human urine to be used for the detection of entrapped victims and to further examine their evolution profile in time. Materials and methods: Headspace solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS) was used to detect and identify the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) spontaneously released from urine of 20 healthy volunteers. Additionally, the evolution of human urine headspace during four days storage at room temperature was investigated. Results: 33 omnipresent species with incidence higher than 80% were selected as potential urine markers. The most represented chemical classes were ketones with 10 representatives, aldehydes (7 species) and sulfur compounds (7 species). The monitoring of the evolution of the urine scent demonstrated an increase in the emission of 26 omnipresent urinary volatiles (rise from 36% to 526%). The highest increase was noted for dimethyldisulfide and dimethyltrisulfide (fivefold increase) and 3-methyl-2-butanone, 4-methyl-2-pentanone and 3-hexanone (fourfold rise). Only three compounds exhibited decreasing trend; dimethylsulfone, octanal and propanal. Conclusion: The ubiquitous urine VOCs identified within this study create a library of potential markers of human urine to be verified in further field studies, involving portable and sensitive instruments, directly applied in the field.

Toxicology mechanisms and methods (22)
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