Field-Portable GC-MS for Human Exposure Assessment

Oral Presentation

Prepared by P. Smith
U.S. Department of Labor - OSHA, 10815 Kokopelli, Kokopelli, Cedar Hills, UT, 84062, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 801-448-4633


Complex exposure assessment problems can only be understood using definitive tools, including in some cases field-portable instrumentation. The use of field-portable gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) instrumentation can provide important information regarding exposures to unknown chemicals, or to rule out exposures to unknown chemicals, and the recent advent of small high-performance GC-MS instruments has greatly improved abilities in this area. High resolution chromatography, rapid analysis times, and multiple sample introduction approaches are now possible with a modern GC-MS instrument equipped with an open tubular capillary column that is resistively heated. Sample introduction for field-portable GC-MS instruments is typically solventless, either using solid phase microextraction (SPME), needle trap sampling, or heat desorption of traditional 89 mm length sorbent-packed tubes. Field data from all three sample introduction approaches will be provided in the context of exposure assessment problems where field-portable GC-MS instrumentation was used to better understand human exposures to airborne chemicals: (1) exposure to light hydrocarbons during gauging of oil production tanks, (2) exposure to the neurotoxin 1-bromopropane related to vapor phase degreasing, and (3) potential exposure to high molecular weight insect repellents among workers sewing repellent-treated cloth.