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Air sampling of organophosphate triesters using SPME under non-equilibrium conditions

Isetun, Sindra, Nilsson, Ulrika, Colmsjö, Anders, Johansson, Rolf
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2004 v.378 no.7 pp. 1847-1853
air, air pollution, coatings, detection limit, esters, flame retardants, plasticizers, pollutants, solid phase microextraction, solvents, time-weighted average
Solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) was used to collect air samples of semi-volatile organophosphate triesters, a group of compounds that are commonly used as flame retardants/plasticisers and have therefore become ubiquitous indoor air pollutants. SPME is a simple sampling technique with several major advantages, including time-efficiency and low solvent consumption. Analyte losses also tend to be relatively low. In quantitative SPME, measurements are normally taken after the analyte has reached partitioning equilibrium between the fibre and the sample matrix. However, equilibrium sampling of semi-volatile compounds in air with SPME often takes several hours. Clearly, time-weighted average (TWA) sampling using SPME under non-equilibrium conditions could be considerably faster. So, in this study, the possibility of sampling organophosphate triesters under non-equilibrium conditions was tested. The most important variables proved to be the fibre coating and the air velocity during sampling. The highest uptake rate was obtained with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS, 100 μm). The rate for this fibre was 150-fold higher than obtained with PDMS/DVB and Carbowax/DVB, both 65 μm. Contrary to theoretical expectations, the uptake rate appeared to be constant for all tested air velocities over the fibre surface >7 cm/s. These findings suggest that the uptake rate for non-equilibrium SPME sampling is independent of the sampling flow above this flow rate, which would considerably enhance the robustness and flexibility of the method. Applying this method for TWA sampling, with sampling periods of 1 h, detection limits lower than 2 ng/m³ for individual organophosphate esters were obtained.