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Superfund Research Program

A Real-Time System for Volatile Toxin Measurements

Project Leader: Eli Margalith
Grant Number: R43ES011873
Funding Period: Phase I: 2002-2004
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The characterization of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) plays a crucial role in confronting the unknowns and challenges of hazardous waste sites, including Superfund sites. Some of the more recognized volatile organic compounds most commonly found at Superfund sites include benzene and toluene, as well as polycyclic and halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs/HAHs).

A major pathway for volatile HAPs released from Superfund sites is through the air. As direct vapors or as adsorbents on particles, these can be inhaled by humans, causing both short and long-term adverse health effects. Current methods for detection of these compounds are rather expensive and slow.

In response to the need for a novel monitoring and measurement device, OPOTEK proposes to develop a field-ready system for real-time concentration measurements of vapors from volatile hazardous compounds over contaminated sites. To do so, OPOTEK will couple its compact tunable UV laser system with a compact jet-REMPI time-of-flight mass spectrometer technique. The current Jet-REMPI measurement system, developed and tested by SRI International, has already proven a powerful technique for measuring a variety of hazardous air pollutants with excellent sensitivity and chemical specificity in the laboratory.

Specifically, this project will test the current performance of the Jet-REMPI technique using a smaller, field-ready package to compare the effect of the reduction in mass and spectral resolution in the compact system on sensitivity and selectivity performance when compared to the current laboratory-based system. The compact system will also be tested on a number of additional chemicals on the ATSDR list.

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