Journal Article

Simultaneous Gas Chromatographic Determination of Four Toxic Gases Generally Present in Combustion Atmospheres*

Boyd R. Endecott, Donald C. Sanders and Arvind K. Chaturvedi

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 20, issue 3, pages 189-194
Published in print May 1996 | ISSN: 0146-4760
e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI:
Simultaneous Gas Chromatographic Determination of Four Toxic Gases Generally Present in Combustion Atmospheres*

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The measurement of combustion gases produced by burning aircraft cabin materials poses a continuing limitation for smoke toxicity research. Because toxic effects of gases depend on both their concentrations and the duration of exposure, frequent atmosphere sampling is necessary to define the gas concentration—exposure time curve. A gas chromatographic (GC) method was developed for the simultaneous analyses of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and hydrogen cyanide (HCN). The method used an MTI M200 dual-column gas chromatograph equipped with 4-m molecular sieve-5A and 8-m PoraPlot-U wall-coated capillary columns and two low-volume, high-sensitivity thermal conductivity detectors. Detectability (in parts per million [ppm]) and retention times (in seconds) for the gases were as follows: CO, 100 ppm, 28 s; H2S, 50 ppm, 26 s; SO2, 125 ppm, 76 s; and HCN, 60 ppm, 108 s. The method was effective for determining these gases in mixtures and in the combustion atmospheres generated by burning wool (CO, HCN, and H2S) and modacrylic fabrics (CO and HCN). Common atmospheric gaseous or combustion products (oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water vapor, and other volatiles) did not interfere with the analyses. However, filtration of the combustion atmospheres was necessary to prevent restriction of the GC sampling inlet by smoke particulates. The speed, sensitivity, and selectivity of this method make it suitable for smoke toxicity research and for evaluating performance of passenger protective breathing equipment. Also, this method can potentially be modified to analyze these gases when they are liberated from biosamples.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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