Determination of phosphine and other fumigants in air samples by thermal desorption and 2D heart-cutting gas chromatography with synchronous SIM/Scan mass spectrometry and flame photometric detection.

Summary of "Determination of phosphine and other fumigants in air samples by thermal desorption and 2D heart-cutting gas chromatography with synchronous SIM/Scan mass spectrometry and flame photometric detection."

Fumigants and volatile industrial chemicals are particularly hazardous to health when a freight container is fumigated or the contaminated material is introduced into its enclosed environment. Phosphine is now increasingly used as a fumigant, after bromomethane--the former fumigant of choice--has been banned by the Montreal Protocol. We have enhanced our previously established thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS) method by integrating a second gas chromatographic dimension and a flame photometric detector to allow the simultaneous detection of phosphine and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), providing a novel application. A thermal desorption system is coupled to a two dimensional gas chromatograph using both mass spectrometric and flame photometric detection (TD-2D-GC-MS/FPD). Additionally, the collection of mass spectrometric SIM and Scan data has been synchronised, so only a single analysis is now sufficient for qualitative scanning of the whole sample and for sensitive quantification. Though detection limits for the herewith described method are slightly higher than in the previous method, they are in the low μL m(-3) range, which is not only below the respective occupational exposure and intervention limits but also allows the detection of residual contamination after ventilation. The method was developed for the separation and identification of 44 volatile substances. For 12 of these compounds (bromomethane, iodomethane, dichloromethane, 1,2-dichlorethane, benzene, tetrachloromethane, 1,2-dichloropropane, toluene, trichloronitromethane, ethyl benzene, phosphine, carbon disulfide) the method was validated as we chose the target compounds due to their relevance in freight container handling.


Institute for Occupational Medicine and Maritime Medicine, Division of Occupational Toxicology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Hamburg, Marckmannstraße 129b, 20539 Hamburg, Germany.

Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Journal of chromatography. A
ISSN: 1873-3778
Pages: 8298-307


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