Volatile Organic Compounds

Authored by: Pradyot Patnaik

Handbook of Environmental Analysis

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781498745611
eBook ISBN: 9781315151946
Adobe ISBN:


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A number of organic substances that are found in the environmental matrices or released into the environment from various industrial processes are referred to as “volatile compounds” for their relatively low boiling points and high vapor pressures. There are however no definitive criteria to define the boiling point or the vapor pressure range of such substances. The term “volatile” compounds includes a wide range of substances that may be gases at ordinary temperatures, such as methyl chloride or liquids like carbon tetrachloride with a boiling point greater than that of water. Under this general term, we may include any substance that can be purged out of water under a flow of a purging gas, or likewise thermally desorbed out from the sample matrices when heated under a carrier gas. The term “volatile organic compounds” in general applies to the sample extraction technique. Several methods may be found in the literature for analyzing such volatile organic compounds in aqueous and nonaqueous matrices (APHA, AWWA, and WEF, 2005; NIOSH, 1994; Patnaik, 2004; U.S. EPA, 1986, 1992, 1999). Such extraction techniques may vary with the sample matrices. Compounds are mostly detected by GC using a suitable GC detector or by a mass spectrometer.

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