An industrial hygiene survey of acetonitrile using a miniature quadrupole mass spectrometer
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Charcoal tubes are an industry standard for the collection and concentration of airborne chemicals in the field for later analysis in a laboratory. There are a few drawbacks in using charcoal tubes, including the time delay before results are returned, breakthrough potential, and interferences. It is often impractical or impossible to observe a time history of contamination concentration. New technological advances have made it possible to miniaturize instruments typically found in the laboratory, such as the mass spectrometer. These advances include recent development of a miniature multipole mass spectrometer that may be useful for direct measurement of contamination in the field. Two goals were achieved in this research. First, the potential for worker exposure to acetonitrile vapors during the cleaning of a DNA-synthesizing process was demonstrated. Second, acetonitrile concentrations were measured from Tedlar bags filled in an organics-contaminated work environment and other bags with synthetic atmospheres. A miniature multinode mass spectrometer is compared with NIOSH method 1606 analysis of charcoal tubes through which the contaminated air passed while the bags were emptied. Workplace air samples, along with studies of the ventilation patterns, showed potentially unacceptable worker exposure to acetonitrile. The hazardous DNA-synthesis process was shut down pending process improvements. The multipole mass spectrometer provided readings that did not have a consistent relationship with their associated charcoal tube readings. Background readings, which included varying concentrations of environmental contaminants, needed to be subtracted, increasing variance in readings due to the high variance observed in the background readings.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 33-35).
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Bruss, Stacy M (1999). An industrial hygiene survey of acetonitrile using a miniature quadrupole mass spectrometer. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from