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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-244
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-244
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 09 Oct 2018

Research article | 09 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

The interference of tetrachloromethane in the measurement of benzene in air by Gas Chromatography - Photoionization Detector (GC-PID)

Cristina Romero1, María Esther González1, Marta Doval2, and Enrique González1 Cristina Romero et al.
  • 1Chemical Engineering Department, School of Chemistry, University of Murcia, 30100 Murcia, Spain
  • 2Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department, Technical University of Cartagena, Paseo Alfonso XIII, 52, 30203 Cartagena, Murcia, Spain

Abstract. The European Union requires that the benzene in air is measured due to its toxic characteristics and widespread presence in the population nuclei, motivated by vehicle emissions. The reference measuring technique is by gas chromatography (GC). For practical and safety reasons it is recommended that a photometric ionisation detector (PID) is used. The automatic chromatographs used in the monitoring stations must verify the operating conditions in the standard EN 14662:2005 part 3, which describes the Type Approval Tests. One of the tests determines possible interferences, including by tetrachloromethane (TCM). Part 3 of the cited standard was modified in 2015, eliminating TCM as a possible interferer. Given that some studies ensure the presence of said product in air, there has been considerable interest in testing different mixtures of benzene and TCM.

This study has shown that the simultaneous presence of benzene and TCM causes a significant decrease in the first GC-PID readings. For TCM concentrations of 0.7μg/m3 (typical of urban areas) and 4.5μg/m3 (detected in the vicinity of landfills), the relative errors in benzene concentration were 34 and 70%, respectively, which are of unacceptable quality for the measurement of benzene. Possible mechanisms have been proposed to qualitatively and quantitatively explain what happens in the PID with benzene alone and in the presence of TCM.

Given the significant impact of the interferer, it is important to open a discussion forum to address this issue.

Cristina Romero et al.
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Cristina Romero et al.
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Short summary
The benzene determination in ambient air is mandatory in the European Union. The reference measuring technique is by gas chromatography and it is recommended that a photometric ionisation detector is used. This study has shown that the simultaneous presence of benzene and tetrachloromethane causes a significant decrease in the GC-PID readings. Given the importance of this behaviour, a possible mechanism was proposed. This study highlights the uncertainty of measuring benzene using a GC-PID.
The benzene determination in ambient air is mandatory in the European Union. The reference...
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