Detecting Covid-19 using molecules found in exhaled air

On The July 8, 2020

Researchers at the Institute for Catalysis and Environmental Research of Lyon (Institut de recherches sur la catalyse et l’environnement de Lyon – Ircelyon) are currently testing a method that uses chemical compounds in the breath to detect Covid-19.

Since the beginning of June, Lyon’s Hôpital de la Croix Rousse has been testing a new mysterious device in the departments treating patients with Covid-19. It is a type of breathalyzer, about the size of a refrigerator, featuring a long flexible tube with a removable spout. It detects Covid-19 using the molecules found in exhaled air.

Ircelyon researchers (Unité CNRS/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1) invite capable and willing patients, as well as some of the nursing staff, to blow for the sake of science.

Thanks to support from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the French State, we are the first to have access to this device.

expresses Matthieu Riva, a researcher at the Ircelyon.


The data currently being collected will enable us to establish the first trends by the end of July or at the beginning of the 2020 school year.

In the longer term, this method could even be used to detect respiratory conditions: a new field of research in environmental sciences!

Read the full article on the CNRS journal