Cinema audiences reproducibly vary the chemical composition of air during films, by broadcasting scene specific emissions on breath

Sci Rep. 2016 May 10;6:25464. doi: 10.1038/srep25464.


Human beings continuously emit chemicals into the air by breath and through the skin. In order to determine whether these emissions vary predictably in response to audiovisual stimuli, we have continuously monitored carbon dioxide and over one hundred volatile organic compounds in a cinema. It was found that many airborne chemicals in cinema air varied distinctively and reproducibly with time for a particular film, even in different screenings to different audiences. Application of scene labels and advanced data mining methods revealed that specific film events, namely "suspense" or "comedy" caused audiences to change their emission of specific chemicals. These event-type synchronous, broadcasted human chemosignals open the possibility for objective and non-invasive assessment of a human group response to stimuli by continuous measurement of chemicals in air. Such methods can be applied to research fields such as psychology and biology, and be valuable to industries such as film making and advertising.

MeSH terms

  • Acetone / analysis
  • Acetone / chemistry
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollutants / chemistry*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor*
  • Butadienes / analysis
  • Butadienes / chemistry
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Carbon Dioxide / chemistry
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Hemiterpenes / analysis
  • Hemiterpenes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Motion Pictures
  • Pentanes / analysis
  • Pentanes / chemistry
  • Respiration*
  • Time Factors
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / chemistry


  • Air Pollutants
  • Butadienes
  • Hemiterpenes
  • Pentanes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • isoprene
  • Acetone
  • Carbon Dioxide