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J Sep Sci. 2013 Jun;36(12):1967-72. doi: 10.1002/jssc.201300080. Epub 2013 May 27.

Validation of methane measurement using headspace-GC-MS and quantification by a stable isotope-labeled internal standard generated in situ.

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Forensic Toxicology and Chemistry Unit, University Center of Legal Medicine, Lausanne-Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland.


A previous study has shown the possibility to identify methane (CH4 ) using headspace-GC-MS and quantify it with a stable isotope as internal standard. The main drawback of the GC-MS methods discussed in literature for CH4 measurement is the absence of a specific internal standard necessary to perform quantification. However, it becomes essential to develop a safer method to limit the manipulation of gaseous CH4 and to precisely control the injected amount of gas for spiking and calibration by comparison with external calibration. To avoid the manipulation of a stable isotope-labeled gas, we have chosen to generate a labeled gas as an internal standard in a vial on the basis of the formation of CH4 by the reaction of Grignard reagent methylmagnesium chloride with deuterated water. This method allows precise measurement of CH4 concentrations in gaseous sample as well as in a solid or a liquid sample after a thermodesorption step in a headspace vial. A full accuracy profile validation of this method is then presented.

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