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Identification of Volatile Organic Compounds in Office Products


Santford V. Overton & John J. Manura. Scientific Instrument Services, Ringoes, NJ

The quality of indoor air has become a major concern to the entire population. Numerous reports have been previously reported describing the "sick building syndrome" which has been associated with the quality of indoor air in public buildings. Health risks due to these "sick buildings" have caused concern in government and industry due to both time lost by sick employees and the costs involved with remediation. Building related health problems may be due to contamination of indoor air by emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) from a variety of sources including construction materials, fabrics, furnishings, maintenance supplies, adhesives, paints, caulks, paper and cleaning products. Because many of the volatile emissions and by-products from these products are toxic, additional knowledge of the levels of these organic chemicals in the indoor air environment is required in order to determine human health impact. Not only will new methods be required to accurately determine the identity and to accurately quantify the levels of these volatile organics in indoor air samples, but additional studies will be needed to determine the sources of the air contamination. If manufacturing processes are contributing to poor air quality, then these manufacturing processes will need to be improved to limit the emission of VOC's. For this study, samples from several different office products were analyzed by "Direct Thermal Extraction" using a thermal desorption system connected to the injection port of a GC/MS system and/or by a purge and trap technique (P&T) to determine the VOC'S present which may contribute to this "sick building syndrome". The volatile organics present in the office products were quantified using matrix spiked deuterated internal standards. This technique can be easily incorporated into a troubleshooting technique to detect potential problems as well as implementation into a quality control program.