Normative data for pH of exhaled breath condensate

Chest. 2006 Feb;129(2):426-430. doi: 10.1378/chest.129.2.426.


Introduction: Measurement of pH is one of the simplest and most technically validated biomarkers studied in exhaled breath condensate (EBC). The pH of EBC has been found to be lower than controls in many respiratory disorders. Published data from normal control subjects have been reasonably consistent, but the data sets are not large. This study was undertaken to establish normative EBC pH reference values.

Participants: Four hundred four healthy subjects of all ages were enrolled.

Interventions: Each participant provided a single EBC sample using a disposable collector at modest temperature so that EBC was collected as a liquid.

Measurements and results: Samples of EBC were bubbled with argon gas to standardize for carbon dioxide, and pH was recorded with a calibrated and validated glass microelectrode on stabilization. The median EBC pH was 8.0 with interquartile (25 to 75%) range of 7.8 to 8.1. There were no differences based on age, sex, or race. The distribution is skewed, with 6.4% of EBC samples having a pH range < 7.4.

Conclusions: An extensive normal data set now exists that reveals EBC pH is maintained in a modestly alkaline and tight range in subjects who consider themselves healthy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Breath Tests*
  • Child
  • Exhalation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / diagnosis


  • Biomarkers