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Identification of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in plastic products using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS)

Identificação de compostos orgânicos voláteis (COVs) em produtos plásticos por cromatografia gasosa acoplada a espectrometria de massa (CG/MS)


Plastic materials are widely used in daily life. They contain a wide range of compounds with low molecular mass, including monomeric and oligomeric residues of polymerization, solvent-related chemicals residues, and various additives. Plastic products made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) are currently employed as food containers. This study therefore sought to identify volatile organic compounds released by EPS from food packages and utensils used in Cartagena, Colombia. EPS-based plates, food and soup containers were subjected to various temperatures and released chemicals captured by solid phase microextraction, followed by on-column thermal desorption and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. The results revealed the presence of at least 30 different compounds in the EPS-based products examined; the most frequently found were benzaldehyde, styrene, ethylbenzene and tetradecane. The release of these molecules was temperature-dependent. It is therefore advisable to regulate the use of EPS products which may be subjected to heating in order to protect human health by decreasing the exposure to these chemicals.

additives; expanded polystyrene (EPS); solid-phase microextraction (SPME); styrene

Os materiais plásticos são amplamente usados na vida quotidiana. Eles contêm uma grande variedade de compostos de baixa massa molecular, incluindo os resíduos monoméricos e oligoméricos de polimerização, relacionados com resíduos de solventes químicos, e diferentes aditivos. Atualmente, os produtos de poliestireno expandido (EPS) são empregados como recipientes para alimentos. Assim, o objetivo deste estudo foi identificar os compostos orgânicos voláteis liberados por objetos utilizados diretamente em contato com alimentos disponíveis em Cartagena, Colômbia. Produtos baseados em EPS tais como pratos, recipientes para alimentos e sopa foram submetidos a diferentes temperaturas de aquecimento e as substâncias químicas liberadas foram capturadas empregando-se a técnica de microextração em fase sólida, seguida de dessorção térmica e análise por cromatografia a gás/espectrometria de massa. Os resultados revelaram a presença de pelo menos 30 compostos diferentes relacionados aos produtos de EPS examinados, sendo o benzaldeído, estireno, etilbenzeno e tetradecano os mais frequentemente encontrados. A liberação dessas moléculas é dependente da temperatura a que o material é submetido. Portanto, para proteger a saúde humana, diminuindo a exposição a estes agentes químicos, é aconselhável regular o uso de produtos a base de EPS que poderão ser submetidos a aquecimento.

aditivos; estireno; micro extração em fase sólida (SPME); poliestireno expandido (EPS)

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    31 Oct 2014
  • Date of issue
    Dec 2014


  • Received
    19 June 2014
  • Accepted
    19 Sept 2014
Instituto de Pesquisas Ambientais em Bacias Hidrográficas Instituto de Pesquisas Ambientais em Bacias Hidrográficas (IPABHi), Estrada Mun. Dr. José Luis Cembranelli, 5000, Taubaté, SP, Brasil, CEP 12081-010 - Taubaté - SP - Brazil