Determination of Glycol Ethers in Ambient Air by Adsorption Sampling and Thermal Desorption with GC/MS Analysis: Performance Evaluation and Field Application
Some of glycol ethers, such as 2-methoxyethanol (2-ME) and 2-ethoxyethanol (2-EE) are known to be toxic and classified as hazardous air pollutants in USA, Japan and Germany. In Korea, however, there has been no study conducted so far for these compounds in ambient air. In addition, no clear methodologies for the measurement of glycol ethers have been yet established. We carried out this study to evaluate a sampling and analytical method for the determination of glycol ethers, in ambient air samples collected in specific industrial areas of South Korea. To measure glycol ethers, adsorption sampling and thermal desorption with GC/MS analysis were used in this study. The analytical method showed good repeatability, linearity and sensitivity. The lower detection limits were estimated to be approximately 0.3∼0.5 ppb. Based on storage tests, it was suggested that samples should be analyzed within two weeks. It was also demonstrated that this method can be used for the simultaneous measurement of glycol ethers and other aromatic VOCs such as benzene, toluene, and xylenes. Field sampling campaign was carried out at 2 sites, located in a large industrial area, from October 2006 to June 2007, and a total of 480 samples were collected seasonally. Among them, 2-ME was not detected from any samples, while 2-EE and 2-Ethyloxyethylacetate (2-EEA) were found in 7 and 70 samples, respectively. The measured concentrations of 2-EE and 2-EEA for samples were ranged from 0.7-2.5 ppb and from 0.5-10.5 ppb, respectively. To our knowledge, this is the first measurement report for glycol ethers in the ambient atmosphere not only in Korea but also the rest of the world.