Environmental contamination has been at the forefront of government policy and regulation since the US EPA was established in 1970. Over the years the US EPA has developed, published, and updated multiple methods for analysis of environmental pollutants, and single-quadrupole gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) has long been the technique of choice for determination of volatile organic contaminants (VOCs). As efforts to provide dependable analytical methods have progressed, the GC/MS instrumentation has evolved, with improvements in sensitivity, reliability, and user experience, but there haven’t been many significant advancements in the overall methodology since the mid-1980s.
The VOC methods are all run using the purge-and-trap (P&T) sample introduction technique; headspace is not allowed for drinking water or wastewater compliance testing in the US. The required US EPA methods for VOCs are US EPA Methods 524.2, 524.3, and 524.4 (Drinking Water), Method 624 (Waste Water), and Method 8260 (Groundwater and Solid Waste). US EPA Method 8260 is by far the most comprehensive in terms of the number of VOCs included in the compound list, with as many as 100 or more RCRA VOCs included for testing. The method is used to determine VOCs in a variety of solid waste matrices, is applicable to nearly all types of samples, regardless of water content, and is one of the most common VOC methods used by commercial testing laboratories today.
This application note describes analytical operating conditions for analysis of US EPA Method 8260C1, Revision 3, August 2006, and includes BFB tune parameters, calibration details, and a complete MDL and Precision and Accuracy study for almost 100 target compounds at multiple concentrations.