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Analytical procedure for the determination of very volatile organic compounds (C₃-C₆) in indoor air

: Schieweck, A.; Gunschera, J.; Varol, D.; Salthammer, T.

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Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 410 (2018), No.13, pp.3171-3183
ISSN: 1618-2642 (Print)
ISSN: 1618-2650 (Online)
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer WKI ()
VVOC; indoor air; analysis; gas chromatography; mass spectrometry; thermal desorption

The substance group of very volatile organic compounds (VVOCs) is moving into the focus of indoor air analysis, facing ongoing regulations at international and European levels targeting on indoor air quality and human health. However, there exists at present no validated analysis for the identification and quantification of VVOCs in indoor air. Therefore, the present study targeted on the development of an analytical method in order to sample the maximum possible quantity of VVOCs in indoor air on solid sorbents with subsequent analysis by thermal desorption and coupled gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (TDS-GC/MS). For this purpose, it was necessary to investigate the performance of available sorbents and to optimize the parameters of GC/MS analysis. Stainless steel tubes filled with Carbograph 5TD were applied successfully for low-volume sampling (2–4 l) with minimal breakthrough (< 1%). With the developed method, VVOCs between C₃ and C₆ of different volatility and polarity can be detected even in trace quantities with low limits of quantitation (LOQ; 1–3 μg m⁻³). Limitations occur for low molecular weight compounds ≤C₃, especially for polar substances, such as carboxylic acids and for some aldehydes and alcohols. Consequently, established methods for the quantification of these compounds in indoor air cannot be fully substituted yet. At least three different analytical techniques are needed to cover the large spectrum of relevant VVOCs in indoor air. In addition, unexpected reaction products might occur and need to be taken into account to avoid misinterpretation of chromatographic signals.