The Development of a SPME-GC/MS Method for the Analysis of VOC Emissions from Historic Plastic and Rubber Materials

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Curran, K. ; Underhill, M. ; Gibson, L. T. ; Strlic, M. (2015)
  • Publisher: Elsevier
  • Subject: Volatile organic compounds, SPME-GC/MS, Heritage, Plastic, Modern materials

Analytical methods have been developed for the analysis of VOC emissions from historic plastic and rubber materials using SPME-GC/MS. Parameters such as analysis temperature, sampling time and choice of SPME fibre coating were investigated and sampling preparation strategies explored, including headspace sampling in vials and in gas sampling bags. The repeatability of the method was evaluated. It was found that a 7 d accumulation time at room temperature, followed by sampling using a DVB/CAR/PDMS fibre, with a sampling time of 60 min at room temperature was a suitable strategy for the detection of VOC emissions from a wide range of historic plastic and rubber artefacts. For 20 mL vials, a sample size of 50 mg was found to be appropriate and grinding the samples improved the repeatability of the analysis and yielded higher levels of emissions. A non-destructive adaptation of the method that could be used directly on historic objects in a museum environment is also presented. The detected emissions improve understanding of ongoing degradation processes within historic plastic and rubber materials, in addition to providing information on material composition.
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