2002 Annual

Monday, 14 January 2002
Studies of Volatile Organic Compounds in Ambient Air in New York City
Mohamed Bangura, Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY; and J. Dick
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including benzene and its derivatives contribute significantly to the pollution of urban air; at low altitudes, VOCs also enhance ozone production. Monitoring VOC in urban air has important health implications, especially since asthma and other lung diseases in inner city communities are above the national average. In addition, weather variables such as wind speed, atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity affect dispersal patterns and concentrations. Present methods for the determination of VOCs in ambient air are expensive and complex, simpler methods are required. Tetraglyme (tetraethylene glycol dimethyl ether) is used to scrub a variety of VOCs in ambient air. The chilled tetraglyme traps VOCs as the air is bubbled through it. The VOCs are dispersed in water, which is analyzed by purge and trap followed by GC/MS (Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry). The total VOCs were determined using the response factor for toluene. Values obtained by this method were compared to those of the established literature. This method is simple, low cost, advantageous in identifying a number of compounds. [This project is funded by NASA-MUSPIN CUNY NRTS, NASA/PAIR at CCNY, NASA GISS/MEC Partnership and NSF NYC-LSAMP.]

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