During many natural or terrorist-induced crises, humans have been trapped under buildings, cars, and many other large objects. Far too often, these people have been found too late to be helped. Scientists have recently started looking into ways to find these trapped people faster. They have found that these trapped people will release metabolites, or the body’s breakdown products, through breath and other body fluids. These fluids react with the fallen building around them, leaving chemical evidence that a person is there. A large component of these fluids is carbon dioxide, which, if detected in larger amounts, leaves even better evidence of a lost person. Another indicator of the presence of a person is their personal odor. Many people are concerned about the way they smell, and often wear perfume to mask their own personal smell. In this situation, you would be happy to smell bad!
This seems like a fool-proof way of solving the problem of finding trapped people, but complications in experimenting have come up. For example, scientists have pondered the ethics of conducting such an experiment; test subjects could only be humans and must be able to emit these chemicals effectively, which means they have to be either asleep or subject to pain.
Even though experiments are still being conducted, scientists say that devices used for this type of task may still be used in the field. It can’t harm any processes; it can only assist in the search for trapped humans.
This study is far from over, but I believe that it is well under way. It shows much promise in the hypothesis and has already helped in a few circumstances. If another terrorist attack or earthquake should hit, would we want to be more prepared for the outcomes and be able to find and rescue more people than ever before? If we do not continue this research, we may never know how many lives can be saved. Think of yourself in this situation. It may be hard now, but wouldn’t you want to be found?