Bombers face detection by breathalyser
October 31st, 2005

A portable breathalyser has been developed that can detect traces of chemicals found in explosives when they are exhaled by people who have handled them, reports New Scientist.

The device, called Heartsbreath, was developed by Michael Phillips and colleagues at Menssana Research in Fort Lee, New Jersey. It was originally intended for medical diagnosis, using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyse volatile organic markers in the breath, and has already been used to detect early-stage lung cancer. Last year it was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for detecting heart transplant rejection.

Because chemicals from explosives can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and stored in body tissue, Phillips wondered whether the technology could help either convict or acquit terror suspects.

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