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Field sampling demonstration of portable thermal desorption collection and analysis instrumentation

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The HAPSITE® (Hazardous Air Pollutants on Site) is a portable gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC–MS) unit designed to aid air sampling technicians by identifying and quantifying volatile organic compounds from occupational and environmental sampling. The main goal of the present study was to extend prior laboratory-based work with the portable HAPSITE® ER (extended range model) thermal desorption (TD) capability to real-world field samples from both indoor and outdoor environments using different types of active and passive sampling mechanisms. Understanding the performance of the HAPSITE® ER in a realistic field setting will allow air quality sampling technicians to make improved decisions related to sampling and analysis methods in the field. An important finding was that certain charcoal-based TD sorbents were contraindicated for the HAPSITE® ER because of a substantial hydrocarbon bleed which degraded system performance. A novel time series TD sampler (Logistically Enabled Sampling System-Portable [LESS-P]) was validated using Tenax TA TD tubes against standard active sampling across multiple field sampling sites, and the qualitative analytical trends and compound identities were similar between LESS-P replicates analysed via benchtop GC–MS and HAPSITE® ER. Once validated, the LESS-P was used to determine the reference concentrations for passive sampling calculations. The results confirmed the passive sampling methodology within the benchtop system, but highlighted some systemic sensitivity limitations that must be addressed in order for the HAPSITE® to be accurately applied to passive sampling. We propose that the LESS-P time-series sampler may help to alleviate the requirement for sampling technicians to be on-site during active sampling, allowing for automated sampling throughout the duration of a sampling event.
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Keywords: Field sampling; GC–MS; HAPSITE® ER; LESS-P; thermal desorption

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: UES, Inc., contractor for Human Effectiveness Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OH, USA 2: Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria 3: METSS, contractor for Human Effectiveness Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OH, USA 4: Human Effectiveness Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OH, USA 5: USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OH, USA

Publication date: March 15, 2016

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