Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released through skin (transcutaneous gas) has been increasing in importance for the continuous and real-time assessment of diseases or metabolisms. For stable monitoring of transcutaneous gas, finding a body part with little interference on the measurement is essential. In this study, we have investigated the possibility of external ears for stable and real-time measurement of ethanol vapour by developing a monitoring system that consisted with an over-ear gas collection cell and a biochemical gas sensor (bio-sniffer). The high sensitivity with the broad dynamic range (26 ppb–554 ppm), the high selectivity to ethanol, and the capability of the continuous measurement of the monitoring system uncovered three important characteristics of external ear-derived ethanol with alcohol intake for the first time: there is little interference from sweat glands to a sensor signal at the external ear; similar temporal change in ethanol concentration to that of breath with delayed peak time (avg. 13 min); relatively high concentration of ethanol relative to other parts of a body (external ear-derived ethanol:breath ethanol = 1:590). These features indicated the suitability of external ears for non-invasive monitoring of blood VOCs.
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