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Authors: Stefano Dugheri, Alessandro Bonari, Ilenia Pompilio, Marco Colpo, Nicola Mucci, Manfredi Montalti and Giulio Arcangeli

World consumption of formaldehyde (FA) is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of about 4% from 2015 to 2020 with world production to exceed 52 million tons in 2017. From the first day of January 2016, the Commission Regulation No. 91/2015 established the FA classification through an indication from European Chemical Agency as category 2 mutagenic and category 1B carcinogen. A novel method for the determination of gaseous FA in air is presented herewith. The sampling was carried out using a miniaturized cartridge by means of a medium-flow pumping system (1.0 L min-1, 5–60 min) and absorption of FA vapors on 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine. Cartridge desorption removing the excess derivatizing agent based upon solid-phase extraction was performed by an innovative xyz robotic system on-line with fast gas chromatography (GC)—mass spectrometry (MS). Through the generation of standard atmospheres of known concentration of FA, we evaluated the precision (relative standard deviation for n = 10, 8.8%), lower limit of quantification (0.072 µg/cartridge), and linearity (from 0.125—64 µg/cartridge with correlation coefficient of 0.99) of the method. The described procedure combines the efficiency of fast GC—MS systems with both the high throughput of autosampler and the quantitative accuracy of FA-dinitrophenylhydrazone for measuring American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists TLV Ceiling.

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