The field method for near real-time analysis of perchloroethylene (Perc) in breath is simple, fast, and reproducible for Perc breath analysis in field settings and should prove useful in industrial hygiene practice. The method allows Perc monitoring with good specificity to the sub-part per million (ppm) level within minutes of exposure. A commercially available, portable gas chromatograph with a photoionization detector was used in these analyses. Gas chromatograph settings were optimized in the laboratory for measurement of Perc in Tedlar bags. Laboratory development of the method included evaluation of the sensitivity, specificity, precision, and speed of analysis for Perc. Replicate aliquots of Perc at concentrations ranging from 0.01 to 100 ppm were used to construct a calibration curve. The mean retention time for Perc was 238 sec. The impact of potential interference by acetone, toluene, isoprene, methanol, ethanol, acetaldehyde, carbon tetrachloride, benzene, or chloroform was evaluated by mixing Perc with each compound and performing analyses. Measurements of Perc in human breath samples collected in Tedlar bags in a workplace setting were made and compared to measurements of the same samples made by an established analytical method using charcoal tubes (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH] Method 1003). The accuracy, precision, and speed of the gas chromatograph method were determined. Measurements made with the new method were within a margin of +/- 8.8% (95% CI, n = 6) of measurements made according to NIOSH Method 1003 for field samples in the range of 0.9 to 6 ppm. Method precision was determined by calculating the pooled coefficient of variation for all measurements (replicates = 3) made in the field and was found to be 5.8%.
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