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Detection of emissions from surfaces using ion mobility spectrometry

Vautz, Wolfgang, Baumbach, Jörg Ingo, Uhde, Erik
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2006 v.384 no.4 pp. 980-986
air, air flow, air quality, detection limit, emissions, furniture, home furnishings, humidity, ionization, metabolites, monitoring, product quality, spectrometers, spectroscopy, ultraviolet radiation
Emissions from surfaces (from furniture, wall paintings or floor coverings for instance) significantly influence indoor air quality and therefore the wellbeing or even the health of the occupants. Together with metabolites from mold they are responsible for the well-known “sick building syndrome”. Therefore, it is in the interest of the manufacturer as well as of the occupants to have a fast and accurate method for the detection of substances relevant to this syndrome in order to be able to monitor and control product quality and indoor air quality. The use of small and easy-to-transport ion mobility spectrometers that use UV light as the ionization source enables rapid in situ detection of such substances with high selectivity and sensitivity (detection limits in the lower ppb range). If a multicapillary column is used for preseparation as well, the selectivity is increased and the unwanted influence of humidity on the spectra can be eliminated, thus enabling the use of the instruments under normal ambient conditions. Furthermore, the use of air as carrier gas avoids the need for other sources of high-purity gas. An emission cell with a homogeneous and constant air flow over the surface to be investigated was developed in order to ensure reproducible results. Investigations of emissions from wooden surfaces with and without additional contamination as well as from complex mixtures are presented. The results demonstrate that relevant emissions can be identified and quantified with high sensitivity and selectivity in under five minutes. Therefore, the method is useful for indoor air quality monitoring, especially when miniaturized instruments are applied. [graphic removed]