Identification of volatile degradation products from Baltic amber by headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry
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The aim of this study was to test and develop techniques for the detection and identification of volatile compounds released as degradation products by Baltic amber. During a preliminary investigation, the off-gassing of acidic volatiles was detected through the corrosion of lead coupons. The corrosive compounds released by the material were then identified as formic acid and acetic acid by headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. During an advanced investigation, based on the use of artificial ageing to initiate degradation of model amber samples in different microclimates, the detected formic acid and acetic acid off-gassing appeared to be more intense in a dry environment with normal oxygen concentration. The release of formic and acetic acids by the amber was likely the result of radical reactions which should be investigated in further studies.
KeywordsBaltic amber Headspace Solid-phase microextraction Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry
The author is grateful to Jane Richter (School of Conservation, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts), Yvonne Shashoua and Jens Glastrup (Research, Analysis and Consulting Laboratory of the Department of Conservation, National Museum of Denmark) for invaluable supervision.
The School of Conservation of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and the Research, Analysis and Consulting Laboratory of the Department of Conservation, National Museum of Denmark, are thanked for providing all the materials and experimental equipment used for this research.
The European Union’s Marie Curie Programme is thanked for the financial support which made this study possible.
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