Journal Article

Quantitative Determination of <i>n</i>-Propane, <i>iso</i>-Butane, and <i>n</i>-Butane by Headspace GC-MS in Intoxications by Inhalation of Lighter Fluid*

Marie-Paule L.A. Bouche, Willy E. Lambert, Jan F.P. Van Bocxlaer, Michel H. Piette and André P. De Leenheer

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 26, issue 1, pages 35-42
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jat/26.1.35
Quantitative Determination of n-Propane, iso-Butane, and n-Butane by Headspace GC-MS in Intoxications by Inhalation of Lighter Fluid*

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This report describes a fully elaborated and validated method for quantitation of the hydrocarbons n-propane, iso-butane, and n-butane in blood samples. The newly developed analytical procedure is suitable for both emergency cases and forensic medicine investigations. Its practical applicability is illustrated with a forensic blood sample after acute inhalative intoxication with lighter fluid; case history and toxicological findings are included. Identification and quantitation of the analytes were performed using static headspace extraction combined with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. In order to reconcile the large gas volumes injected (0.5 mL) with the narrowbore capillary column and thus achieve preconcentration, cold trapping on a Tenax sorbent followed by flash desorption was applied. Adequate retention and separation were achieved isothermally at 35°C on a thick-film capillary column. Sample preparation was kept to a strict minimum and involved simply adding 2.5 µL of a liquid solution of 1,1,2-trichlorotrifluoroethane in t-butyl-methylether as an internal standard to aliquots of blood in a capped vial. Standards were created by volumetric dilution departing from a gravimetrically prepared calibration gas mixture composed of 0.3% of n-propane, 0.7% of iso-butane, and 0.8% of n-butane in nitrogen. In the forensic blood sample, the following concentrations were measured: 90.0 µg/L for n-propane, 246 µg/L for iso-butane, and 846 µg/L for n-butane.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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