, Volume 386, Issue 4, pp 1099-1120
Date: 31 May 2006

Determination of complex mixtures of volatile organic compounds in ambient air: canister methodology

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Canister methodology is applicable to 150 polar and nonpolar VOCs found in ambient air from parts-per-billion by volume (ppbv) to parts-per-million (ppmv) levels, and has been validated at parts-per-trillion (pptv) levels for a subset of these analytes. This article is a detailed review of techniques related to the collection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in evacuated Summa and fused-silica-lined canisters, and their analysis by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Emphasis is placed on canister cleaning, VOC stability in canisters, sample dilution, water management, and VOC cryogenic and sorbent preconcentration methods. A wide range of VOC preconcentration and water management methods are identified from the literature, and their relative merits and disadvantages are discussed. Examples of difficulties that commonly arise when processing canister samples are illustrated, and solutions to these problems are provided.