GC/MS (Volatiles) Laboratory

The GC/MS (Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer) Laboratory primarily uses GC/MS instrumentation to identify and quantify volatile compounds such as benzene, toluene, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride. These compounds are used in common products such as gasoline, PVC pipe, dry cleaning fluids, or paint and coating solvents. Some of these chemicals have the potential or are known human carcinogens. Semi-volatile compounds are also analyzed with GC/MS instrumentation and include compounds found in petroleum products, wood treatment and pesticide residues.

Drinking water samples collected statewide are analyzed for over 60 volatile and semi-volatile compounds, as required by federal and state environmental rules. Hazardous waste samples are often analyzed for volatile and semi-volatile organics, an indication of improper disposal. Canisters of air taken from statewide ambient monitors are analyzed for photochemical oxidants (precursors to smog) and toxic organic chemicals (such as tetrachloroethylene).

Ralph Schulz, Manager