Journal of chromatography. A

Simultaneous determination of methyl tert-butyl ether, its degradation products and other gasoline additives in soil samples by closed-system purge-and-trap gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

PMID 16904119


A new protocol for the simultaneous determination of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE); its main degradation products: tert-butyl alcohol (TBA) and tert-butyl formate (TBF); other gasoline additives, oxygenate dialkyl ethers: ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), tert-amyl methyl ether (TAME) and diisopropyl ether (DIPE); aromatics: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) and other compounds causing odour events such as dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) and trichloroethylene (TCE) in soils has been developed. On the basis of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) method 5035A, a fully automated closed-system purge-and-trap coupled to gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (P&T-GC/MS) was optimised and permitted to detect microg/kg concentrations in solid matrices avoiding losses of volatile compounds during operation processes. Parameters optimised were the sampling procedure, sample preservation and storage, purging temperature, matrix effects and quantification mode. Using 5 g of sample, detection limits were between 0.02 and 1.63 microg/kg and acceptable method precision and accuracy was obtained provided quantification was performed using adequate internal standards. Soil samples should be analysed as soon as possible after collection, stored under -15 degrees C for not longer than 7 days if degradation products have to be analysed. The non-preservative alternative (empty vial) provided good recoveries of the most analytes when freezing the samples up to 7 day holding time, however, if biologically active soil are analysed the preservation with trisodium phosphate dodecahydrate (Na(3)PO(4).12H(2)O or TSP) is strongly recommended more than sodium bisulphate (NaHSO(4)). The method was finally applied to provide threshold and background levels of several gasoline additives in a point source and in sites not influenced by gasoline spills. The proposed method provides the directions for the future application on real samples in current monitoring programs at gasoline pollution risk sites where till now little monitoring data for MTBE in soils are available.