PerkinElmer, Inc.

Thermal Desorption-GC/MS Analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on fine particulates in air

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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are commonly found throughout the environment in soil, water and adsorbed to fine particulate matter in air. Of the 16 common PAHs, 7 have been classified as animal carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Resulting from this classification, PAHs are monitored and regulated in the environment. Analysis of PAHs in soil and water is performed with a solvent extraction of the sample matrix and liquid injection into a GC/MS system; a similar technique has been applied to monitoring PAHs adsorbed to the surface of fine particulates in air. A common method of analyzing for PAHs in airborne particles is the California Air Resources Board Method 429. Although Method 429 is both precise and accurate, it requires collecting an air sample on a resin and subsequent extraction with methylene chloride; this technique is both time consuming and requires the use of a hazardous solvent. Presented in this paper is a technique which will use automated thermal desorption to introduce PAHs collected on a glass fiber filter into a GC/MS system; this technique will eliminate the use of solvents and reduce the sample-preparation time dramatically. The application of ATD to PAH analysis is typically difficult because the complete sample path must be heated to prevent severe tailing and carryover of analytes. The method and data presented here will demonstrate the successful analysis of all 16 common PAHs by thermal desorption.

The PerkinElmer® Clarus® 600 Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) with a PerkinElmer TurboMatrix™ 650 Automated Thermal Desorber (ATD) was the instrumental platform utilized in this paper. Standards were prepared in methanol and spiked onto ATD tubes that were packed with Tenax TA. Particulate matter from diesel exhaust was collected onto a glass fiber filter paper; the filter was rolled and placed into a glass ATD tube.

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