Evaluation of septa quality for automatic SPME-GC-MS trace analysis

J Chromatogr Sci. 2012 Jan;50(1):10-4. doi: 10.1093/chromsci/bmr006.


The vials used for the preparation of breath samples for automated solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis are crimped with septa. These septa often emit specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) confounding the measurement results of breath samples. In the current paper, 14 different brands of magnetic caps with silicone-polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), butyl-PTFE, or butyl rubber septa were tested. The total emission of septa over a 4 h period was also evaluated. The tested septa emitted 39 different compounds, which are mainly hydrocarbons, alcohols, and ketones. Acetone and toluene are the most abundant out-gassing products. The concentration of acetone was in the range from 55 to 694 ppb for butyl-PTFE septum (brand 14) and butyl rubber (brand 10), respectively. The measured toluene amount was 69-1323 ppb for the septum brand 14 and brand 8 (silicone-PTFE), respectively. Generally, the butyl rubber septa released higher amounts of contaminants in comparison to the silicone ones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetone / analysis
  • Acetone / chemistry
  • Breath Tests / instrumentation*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene / chemistry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rubber / chemistry
  • Silicones / chemistry
  • Solid Phase Microextraction / instrumentation*
  • Toluene / analysis
  • Toluene / chemistry
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*


  • Silicones
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • polytetrafluoroethylene-silicone
  • Acetone
  • Toluene
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
  • Rubber