Air Sample Analysis for Volatile and Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are characterised by their low boiling points and high vapour pressure at room temperature. Semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) are a subgroup of VOCs that tend to have a higher molecular weights and higher boiling points.

These compounds are of concern as indoor and outdoor air pollutants due to their wide use in manufacturing processes as well as the use of everyday materials. 

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The list of products that can contain VOC/SVOCs is nearly endless and includes household product ingredients such as paints, wax, varnishes, aerosol sprays, cleaners and disinfectants.

VOCs and SVOCs can have a detrimental effect on air quality and personal exposure can contribute to a variety of adverse health effects including eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders and memory impairment. 

Sampling for VOCs in ambient or workplace atmospheres using thermal desorption tubes enables detection limits up to 1000 x lower than with charcoal tubes or diffusive badges.

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At our Manchester Laboratory we carry out analysis on Absorbent tubes, Thermal desorption tubes, and Tedlar bags for the analysis of VOCs and SVOCs. The analysis is carried out by GC-MS and covers NIOSH, BS EN and MDHS methods. Analytical suites can be specified, for instance UEPA TO14 (SVOCs) USEPA TO15 (VOCs), or, to the clients own specification. Results can be supplied as a total or Top10/Top15 etc.  

To ensure the integrity of the samples it is vital that Thermal desorption tubes are capped correctly. To do this we recommend finger tight followed by a maximum quarter turn. Over tightening can damage the tube which may jeopardize our ability to generate any results at all!