Formation of artefacts during air analysis of volatile amines by solid-phase micro extraction
Solid-phase micro extraction (SPME) is a promising technique for fast and low cost trace analysis. However, some limitations of the technique were encountered when using a PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane)/Carboxen fibre for sampling a mixture of volatile aliphatic amines in air. On the GC chromatogram, two supplementary peaks were noticed in addition to the analyte peaks, thus limiting qualitative and quantitative analysis in this particular case. This paper presents the investigations to identify the artefacts and determine the origin of their formation. First, GC-MS identification, by both electron impact and chemical ionisation modes, demonstrated that the two artefacts were unsaturated amines assumed to be formed by a dehydrogenation reaction of the target amines. This reaction was found to occur during thermal desorption of analytes in the GC injection port and to be catalysed by temperature and by metals consisting of the inox (stainless-steel) needle of the SPME device. It was also demonstrated that artefact formation was not significant when using PDMS or PDMS/divinylbenzene fibres. This difference with PDMS/Carboxen fibre can be explained by the high desorption temperature required for this fibre. Moreover, the microporosity of Carboxen induces a longer desorption time which increases the contact between analytes and inox and thereby enhances artefact formation.