Gaseous samples of nine toxic industrial compounds (acrolein, acrylonitrile, carbon disulfide, cyanogen chloride, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, phosgene, and sulfur dioxide) were detected, identified, and quantitated using a fully automated, fieldable, miniature mass spectrometer equipped with a glow discharge electron ionization source and a cylindrical ion trap mass analyzer. The instrument was outfitted with a combined direct air leak and dual thermal desorption tube inlet that allowed for continuous sampling of compounds with throughput times of 2 min or less. Most compounds showed a linear response over the concentration ranges studied (sub-parts per billion [ppb] to parts per million [ppm]). Sorbent tube limits of detection (20 ppb to 8 ppm for all analytes) were lower than those reported for the two compounds examined using direct leak (acrylonitrile 16 ppm and phosgene 500 ppb). All limits of detection were below the concentration at which the compound poses an immediate danger to life and health. Sensitivity, probability of true positives, and the false positive rate for each analyte were investigated and described using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. High quality data with low false positive and negative rates are indicative of the good chemical specificity and sensitivity of the instrument. Complex matrices consisting of second-hand smoke, gasoline exhaust, diesel fuel exhaust, and multiple analytes were also studied. Detection limits for analytes generally increased in the mixtures, but analytes were still detected at concentrations as low as 100 ppb.
J. N. Smith, A. Keil, Jane Likens