The aim of the study was to analyse BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes) in air by solid phase micro-extraction/gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (SPME/GC/MS), and this article presents the features of the calibration method proposed. Examples of real-world air analysis are given. Standard gaseous mixtures of BTEX in air were generated by dynamic dilution. SPME sampling was carried out under non-equilibrium conditions using a Carboxen/PDMS fibre exposed for 30 min to standard gas mixtures or to ambient air. The behaviour of the analytical response was studied from 0 to 65 microg/m3 by adding increasing amounts of BTEX to the air matrix. Detection limits range from 0.05 to 0.1 microg/m3 for benzene, depending on the fibre. Inter-fibre relative standard deviations (reproducibility) are larger than 18%, although the repeatability for an individual fibre is better than 10%. Therefore, each fibre should be considered to be a particular sampling device, and characterised individually depending on the required accuracy. Sampling indoor and outdoor air by SPME appears to be a suitable short-delay diagnostic method for volatile organic compounds, taking advantage of short sampling time and simplicity.
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