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Solid phase microextraction (SPME) technology combines sampling and sample preparation and expedites the sampling and analysis process. Since its introduction in the early 1990s, SPME has been applied to the sampling and analysis of environmental samples including air and wastewater. SPME is reusable, portable, accurate, fast, sensitive, versatile and cost-efficient, and could serve as a powerful alternative to conventional methods used by the research, industrial, regulatory and academic communities.

This paper presents the feasibility of applying SPME to the characterization of odorous gases from agricultural sources. A new method for screening of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) in air including selection of SPME fiber coating, sampling time, and sample analysis with GC was developed. Target VFAs included acetic, propionic, isobutyric, butyric, isovaleric, valeric, and hexanoic acids. These VFAs constitute one of the major components of odorous gases associated with agricultural air. Rapid 1 min air samples were collected with DVB/Carboxen/PDMS 50/30 μm SPME coating at several sites. These sites include cattle feedyards, swine operations, compost operations and biogas generator. SPME-based samples were transported to the laboratory and analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). VFAs were detected at all sites. In addition about 30 other gases were identified. SPME-based sampling provided very convenient and inexpensive means for rapid on-site screening for odorous gases. This method can serve as a “stepping stone” to development of a SPME-based method for quantification of VFAs in air. The advantages and challenges associated with SPME for air sampling and its future applications will also be discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2002

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