Charlene Bayer, Ph.D Chairman & Chief Science Officer at Hygieia Sciences Principal Research Scientist Georgia Tech Research Institute – PART 2 with IAQA HALL OF FAMER

Air Date: 4-4-2014 | Episode: 321

Dr. Charlene Bayer is the Chairman and Chief Science Officer at Hygieia Sciences, founded to commercialize her technology for detecting human diseases from breath and her indoor air quality research…

Full Description:

Dr. Charlene Bayer is the Chairman and Chief Science Officer at Hygieia Sciences, founded to commercialize her technology for detecting human diseases from breath and her indoor air quality research. She is a Senior Research Fellow for Materials and Healthy Buildings at USGBC, a member of the USGBC EQ TAG and IAQP pilot credit workgroup, as well as the past Vice Chair of the USGBC Research Committee.  Additionally she is a Principal Research Scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

 Over the last 30+ years, her research has spanned the gamut of the indoor environment.  Her group was one of the early leaders in sick building and product emissions research.  She has spent much of her career developing methodologies to detect indoor air contaminants at increasingly low levels of detection. One of her long-term research areas is investigating the relationship between asthma and airborne exposures and developing real-time, wearable exposure monitoring systems for children.  She is currently researching breath analysis for the detection of health states, exposures, and diseases.  She was inducted into the IAQA Hall of Fame in March 2014.  She holds multiple patents and is author and presenter of over 150 papers.  She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. from Emory University in and a B.S. from Baylor University in Chemistry.

Z-Man’s Blog:

Air, is air, is air  

 Part 2 with Dr. Bayer

Dr. Charlene Bayer, PhD is both a pioneer in the study of IAQ (and inductee in the IAQA hall of fame) and is doing pioneering work in the detection of human diseases from breath.


Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

  • Hygieia is the Goddess of Health.
  • “Air is a unique and complicated substance.”
  • Measuring disease is what got Charlene interested in breath analysis. She has mechanical aptitude (except with fridge icemakers) and holds patents on integrated sensor systems.
  • “Humans are better test animals than much of the available analytical equipment.”
  • She has learned from experience that we can’t say that mold is present by smell alone.
  • Dogs are used to detect drugs, find termites, locate mold and detect cancer. She told the fascinating story of a women who only went to the doctor for a breast exam because her pet dog kept pushing at her breasts. The woman was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent surgery and the dog stopped pushing at her breasts.
  • She is one of the Green Building Fellows who blogs at
  • Hygieia is commercializing technology and research done while Dr. Bayer was at Georgia Tech. Charlene is working on making academic knowledge more practical and more widely available. While academia is inherently not friendly to business Charlene is trying to improve the relationship. Citing the example that in academia publishing is mandatory, it isn’t always desirable for business partners.
  • Diabetics exhale acetone and asthmatics that are out of regulation also emit detectable levels of unusual chemicals. Hygieia’s breath analysis technology focuses on what people are exhaling (VOCs, etc.) is more like a blood test than like a breathalyzer. VOCs and other toxin found in blood are also found in breath.
  • While Linus Pauling pioneered breath analysis and other scientists are researching the subject, Hygieia’s approach and technology are different.
  • How does Hygieia work? Point of care testing is done in a doctor’s office, where patient breathes into a sampler (similar to a doctor filling a syringe) and the sample is sent to a lab for analysis. Use of a spirometer collects breath at the lower end of the alveoli. Hygieia’s technology uses readily available mass spectrometry to analyze samples.
  • Remote sample analysis is preferable to a “red light going off on a device that say’s you have cancer”.
  • There is a high probability that what we detect in air is not bothering people.  The irritant is likely below the detectable limit which she calls “hiding in the weeds”.
  • Measuring hydration is important because dehydration effects blood pressure and can cause heart attack and death. Hydration can be measured by breath analysis.
  • Opined that Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons  (PAHs) will be the next hot topic in IEQ.
  • Gasoline detectable in breath after pumping gas demonstrates her concept of the superiority of using that breath analysis to measure personal chemical exposures in industry. Examining VOC’s in breath measures body burden.
  • Collection of exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is a noninvasive method for obtaining samples from the lungs.
  • Breath analysis wasn’t designed to analyze particles.


  • We are out-bred people who except for identical twins have unique DNA.
  • Some of what we inhale is expelled while some depending on solubility goes through the blood. Opined, that it is preferable to measure what is going in rather than what is coming out.

Today’s music: “Air Song” from Hair


Z-Man signing off