An air sampling method for the determination of isocyanates, aminoisocyanates and amines formed during the thermal degradation of polyurethane (PUR) is presented. The method is based on the collection of air samples using impinger flasks containing di-n-butylamine (DBA) in toluene with a glass fibre filter in series. Isocyanates are derivatized with DBA to urea derivatives, and amines are derivatized in a subsequent work-up procedure with ethyl chloroformate (ET) to carbamate esters. Amine, aminoisocyanate and isocyanate derivatives were characterized using liquid chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometry (LC-TOFMS) and liquid chromatography-chemiluminescent nitrogen detection (LC-CLND). Quantification was performed by LC-MS, monitoring molecular ions [MH]+ in the electrospray mode. The instrumental detection limits for amines, aminoisocyanates and isocyanates were in the ranges 30–40, 2–3
and 3–70 fmol, respectively. Thermal degradation products of PUR were observed in high concentrations during welding in district heating pipes and PUR-coated metal sheets. Eleven isocyanates, three amines and five aminoisocyanates were identified. The concentrations of isocyanates, aminoisocyanates and amines in samples collected in the smoke close to the welding spot were in the ranges 150–650, 4–290 and 1–70 ppb, respectively. In samples collected in the breathing zone, isocyanates and aminoisocyanates were observed in the ranges 9–120 and 4–19 ppb, respectively. The compounds were present in both gas and particle phases. Volatile compounds dominated in the gas phase, whereas less volatile compounds dominated in the particle phase. The method presented makes it possible to sample and determine amines and aminoisocyanates, in addition to isocyanates. The need to monitor these compounds is clearly illustrated by the high concentrations found
during the thermal degradation of PUR.