Abstract

EPA Method 325 was developed for continuous passive monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particularly benzene, at petroleum refinery fencelines. In this work, a modified version of the method was evaluated at an Ontario near-road research station in winter to assess its suitability for urban air quality monitoring. Samples were collected at 24 hour and 14 day resolution to investigate accuracy for different exposure times. Tubes were analyzed by thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS), and eleven VOCs were quantified including aromatic air toxics. The same VOCs were simultaneously monitored using traditional canister sampling for comparison, and a subset of four were also monitored using a novel miniature gas chromatograph. Good agreement (within 10%) was observed between the 14 day passive tube samples and the canister samples for benzene. However, field-calibrated uptake rates were required to correct passive tube concentrations for lower volatility aromatics. Passive tube deployment and analysis is inexpensive, sampling does not require power and accurate measurements of benzene are demonstrated here for an urban environment. The method is expected to be advantageous for the generation of long term continuous benzene datasets suitable for epidemiological research with greater spatial coverage than is currently available using traditional monitoring techniques.

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