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Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Apr 15;36(8):1798-808.

Optimization of a mist chamber (Cofer scrubber) for sampling water-soluble organics in air.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


While the atmospheric fate and transport of biogenic and anthropogenic hydrocarbons has been extensively studied, little is known about the behavior of first-, second-, and third generation photo-oxidation products that arise from OH radical oxidation of the parent species. The results of chamber experiments establish that *OH oxidation of biogenic and anthropogenic hydrocarbons yields carbonyls, dicarbonyls, hydroxycarbonyls, and keto-acids. However, little is known about the generation and fate of these products in the ambient atmospheric environment. This is changing because of the advent of methods that rely on 0-(2,3,4,5,6-pentafluorobenzyl)hydroxylamine (PFBHA) derivatization of carbonyls in concert with gas chromatography/ion trap mass spectrometry. Such methods provide the means to identify and quantify water-soluble organics, which historically have been difficult to measure. A limitation of existing sampling methods, however, is the use of devices that require low flow rates (0.5-1 L min(-1)). Accordingly, long sampling times (3-4 h) are needed to obtain pptv-ppbv detection limits. The mist chamber is an attractive device because of the high flow rates (25-70 L min(-1)) compatible with its use. Herein, we evaluate a mist chamber using a flow rate of 25-30 L min(-1) to provide short (10 min) sampling times and pptv limits of detection. The results establish a relationship between the Henry's law constant (KH) and the collection efficiency and demonstrate the suitability of the method to measure analytes with KH > or = 10(3) M atm(-1). Adjusting the pH, adding quaternary ammonium salts, or decreasing the temperature of the collecting solution in the mist chamber did not significantly affect the collection efficiency. We tested the method by sampling photooxidation products of isoprene (glyoxal, methylglyoxal, hydroxyacetone, and glycolaldehyde) in the Blodgett Forest, CA. This is the first report of a study the employs the mist chamberto sample hydroxycarbonyls. The accuracy and the reproducibility of the method were evaluated by the analysis of duplicate samples and field spikes. The mean recovery of field spikes was > or =80%, and the relative standard deviation was < or =22% between duplicate measurements. The detection limits were 48, 15, 7.7, and 2.7 pptv for glycolaldehyde, hydroxyacetone, methylglyoxal, and glyoxal, respectively. This work demonstrates the power of the mist chamber in concert with PFBHA derivatization and mass spectrometry to measure pptv concentrations of water-soluble organics with a sampling time of 10 min.

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