Determination of airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at an airport by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and evaluation of occupational exposure

J Chromatogr A. 2007 May 25;1150(1-2):226-35. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2006.08.010. Epub 2006 Aug 30.


The aim of this study was to determine airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and biphenyl at an airport by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and to evaluate occupational exposure by environmental monitoring. A total of 12 samplings were carried out in three areas: (1) a handling area where baggage was unloaded manually from vehicles onto conveyor belts (n=5); (2) the runway with plane and motor vehicle traffic (n=5) and (3) a departure lounge (n=2). PAHs levels were in most cases low. The higher levels found refer to naphthalene (130-13,050 ng/m3) and to its methyl-substitutes 2-methylnaphthalene (64-28,500 ng/m3) and 1-methylnaphthalene (24-35,300 ng/m3), and biphenyl (24-1610 ng/m3). A method was used to quantify twenty-four airborne PAHs, and biphenyl, and to detect a variety of other chemical compounds by means of the deconvolution program AMDIS. After sampling air on quartz filter and PUF and XAD-2 sorbents; extraction with dichloromethane, and concentration and purification on silica cartridges, analyses were carried out by gas chromatography-ion trap mass spectrometry. We used 20 deuterated PAHs to quantify both the 24 native PAHs and biphenyl. The native substances had been subdivided into small groups and in this way, their volatility was adequately reflected by the D-PAH present in each group. The limit of detection was 0.1 ng/m3 for all the PAHs, and a linear range of at least about three-fold the maximum level studied (naphthalene) was obtained both for D-PAHs and the native PAHs. A good recovery pattern was obtained for D-PAHs on quartz filters, PUF and XAD-2.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Aviation
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Air Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons