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A Review of Analytical Methods for the Determination of Sulfolane and Alkanolamines in Environmental Studies

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Sulfolane and alkanolamines are used extensively in the processing of sour natural gases. Over many years of operation, there have been inadvertent leaks of these chemicals to groundwater and wetlands surrounding gas processing facilities, leading to uptake by vegetation. Because sulfolane and alkanolamines are extremely water-soluble, their analysis has presented challenges, particularly requirements for suitable extraction from biological matrixes and soil, along with sensitive detection using commonly available instrumentation. Analytical methods usually use gas chromatography or liquid chromatography with a variety of detector systems. Sample preparation techniques may include extraction with organic solvents, water, or a combination of these. In some cases, direct aqueous injections have been used. Derivatization of alkanolamines has been used to improve the chromatographic separations and detection. More recent procedures, using positive-ion electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (MS), have been useful for the confirmation of uptake of the alkanolamines and transformation products by wetland vegetation. Future developments will likely center on further MS analyses for identification of metabolites and transformation products in aquatic environments.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Water Research Institute, 11 Innovation Blvd, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 3H5, Canada. 2: University of Alberta, Department of Biological Sciences, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E9, Canada. 3: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Centre for Veterinary Drug Residues, 116 Veterinary Rd, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 2R3, Canada.

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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