Volatile organic compounds identification and specific stable isotopic analysis (δ13C) in microplastics by purge and trap gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and combustion isotope ratio mass spectrometry (PT-GC-MS-C-IRMS) - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour Access content directly
Journal Articles Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry Year : 2023

Volatile organic compounds identification and specific stable isotopic analysis (δ13C) in microplastics by purge and trap gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and combustion isotope ratio mass spectrometry (PT-GC-MS-C-IRMS)

Abstract

Microplastics (MPs) have become one of the major global environmental issues in recent decades due to their ubiquity in the environment. Understanding MPs source origin and reactivity is urgently needed to better constrain their fate and budget. Despite improvements in analytical methods to characterize MPs, new tools are needed to help understand their sources and reactivity in a complex environment. In this work, we developed and applied an original Purge-&-Trap system coupled to a GC–MS-C-IRMS to explore the δ13C compound-specific stable isotope analysis (CSIA) of volatile organic compounds (VOC) embedded in MPs. The method consists of heating and purging MP samples, with VOCs being cryo-trapped on a Tenax sorbent, followed by GC–MS-C-IRMS analysis. The method was developed using a polystyrene plastic material showing that sample mass and heating temperature increased the sensitivity while not influencing VOC δ13C values. This robust, precise, and accurate methodology allows VOC identification and δ13C CSIA in plastic materials in the low nanogram concentration range. Results show that the monomer styrene displays a different δ13C value (− 22.2 ± 0.2‰), compared to the δ13C value of the bulk polymer sample (− 27.8 ± 0.2‰). This difference could be related to the synthesis procedure and/or diffusion processes. The analysis of complementary plastic materials such as polyethylene terephthalate, and polylactic acid displayed unique VOC δ13C patterns, with toluene showing specific δ13C values for polystyrene (− 25.9 ± 0.1‰), polyethylene terephthalate (− 28.4 ± 0.5‰), and polylactic acid (− 38.7 ± 0.5‰). These results illustrate the potential of VOC δ13C CSIA in MP research to fingerprint plastic materials, and to improve our understanding of their source cycle. Further studies in the laboratory are needed to determine the main mechanisms responsible for MPs VOC stable isotopic fractionation.
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Dates and versions

hal-04015752 , version 1 (06-03-2023)

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Corentin Le Juge, David Point, Christelle Lagane, Stephanie Reynaud, Bruno Grassl, et al.. Volatile organic compounds identification and specific stable isotopic analysis (δ13C) in microplastics by purge and trap gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and combustion isotope ratio mass spectrometry (PT-GC-MS-C-IRMS). Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, In press, ⟨10.1007/s00216-023-04595-w⟩. ⟨hal-04015752⟩
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