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J Chromatogr A. 2012 Dec 28;1270:20-7. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2012.10.050. Epub 2012 Oct 29.

Validation of adsorbents for sample preconcentration in compound-specific isotope analysis of common vapor intrusion pollutants.

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School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, 100 E Boyd St, Suite 710, Norman, OK 73019, USA.


Isotope ratios of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the environment are often of interest in contaminant fate studies. Adsorbent preconcentration-thermal desorption of VOCs can be used to collect environmental vapor samples for compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA). While active adsorbent samplers offer logistic benefits in handling large volumes of air, their performance in preserving VOCs isotope ratios was not previously tested under sampling conditions corresponding to typical indoor air sampling conditions. In this study, the performance of selected adsorbents was tested for preconcentration of TCE (for determination of C and Cl isotope ratios), PCE (C and Cl) and benzene (C and H). The key objective of the study was to identify the adsorbent(s) permitting preconcentration of the target VOCs present in air at low μg/m(3) concentrations, without significant alteration of their isotope ratios. Carboxen 1016 was found to perform well for the full range of tested parameters. Carboxen 1016 can be recommended for sampling of TCE, PCE and benzene, for CSIA, from air volumes up to 100 L. Variable extent of isotope ratio alteration was observed in the preconcentration of the target VOCs on Carbopack B and Carbopack X, resulting from partial analyte loss via adsorbent bed breakthrough and (possibly) via incomplete desorption. The results from testing the Carbopack B and Carbopack X highlight the need of adsorbent performance validation at conditions fully representative of actual sample collection conditions, and caution against extrapolation of performance data toward more challenging sampling conditions.

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