Headspace gas chromatographic determination of methylene chloride in decaffeinated tea and coffee, with electrolytic conductivity detection

J Assoc Off Anal Chem. 1984 Jul-Aug;67(4):757-61.


A headspace gas chromatographic procedure is described for the determination of methylene chloride (MC) in decaffeinated tea and coffee. The tea or coffee sample, with added methylene bromide (MB) internal standard, is equilibrated for 1.5 h at 100 degrees C in aqueous sodium sulfate before manual headspace sampling. MC and MB are separated on a Porasil A column at 160 degrees C and detected by using a Coulson electrolytic conductivity detector. For coffee and tea samples spiked at 1.3 ppm MC, as well as commercially decaffeinated teas and coffees containing up to 8 ppm MC, coefficients of variation were 10% or less. For decaffeinated teas, problems involving sample homogeneity and loss of MC before sealing the headspace vial had to be overcome. Similar problems with decaffeinated instant and ground coffees were minimal. The headspace procedure was superior to a previously reported distillation technique. MC was readily detected at 0.05 ppm. Fourteen decaffeinated teas and 15 decaffeinated coffees were analyzed; MC was detected at levels that ranged up to 15.9 and 4.0 ppm, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Caffeine*
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Chromatography, Gas / methods
  • Coffee / analysis*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis*
  • Methylene Chloride / analysis*
  • Tea / analysis*


  • Coffee
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Tea
  • Caffeine
  • Methylene Chloride