Evaluation of different adsorbents for large-volume pre-concentration for analyzing atmospheric persistent organic pollutants at trace levels.


This paper investigates the performance of some adsorbents, Carbopack B, Tenax-GC, and XAD-2, in a SPE and GC analytical method for sampling and determining some persistent organic pollutants such as benzene, toluene, o-, m-, and p-xylenes, naphthalene, anthracene, fluorene, fluoranthene, benzo(i,k)fluorene, pyrene and benzo(a)pyrene, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, endosulfan, and PCB congeners (nos. 1, 15, 44, 77, and 209). Adsorbents evaluated in this study are Carbopack B, Tenax-GC, and XAD-2. Before applying the analytical method to air samples, it was widely investigated in laboratory: the sampler is constituted by a glass pyrex vial home-filled with 300 mg (sampling section) and 50 mg of adsorbent material (backup section). The re-extraction is performed by CS(2) (1-2 mL) and analysis is performed by GC-FID and GC-ECD. The evaluation of breakthrough volumes and desorption efficiencies shows the XAD-2 performance in the enrichment of different organic species present in atmosphere at trace levels (ppt) to be more advantageous than the other two materials in terms of analytical and technical parameters. One of the advantages is the high volume of sampled air with high concentration factor and limited loss of analytes (breakthrough volumes are higher than 5,000 L g(-1) for high-boiling compounds and higher than 400 L g(-1) for low-boiling solutes). Another advantage is the possibility of easy and speed re-extraction of analytes using small volumes of solvent (a few milliliters). The recoveries are about 100% with a RSD ≤ 2.3 for low-boiling compounds, and between 77% and 109% with a RSD ≤ 5.7% for high-boiling species. The XAD-2 adsorbent was applied to real air samples collected in different polluted areas (urban, industrial, rural, and remote locations) demonstrating the wide application of such methodology in various environmental situation.


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