N-nitroso compounds: detection in ambient air

Science  25 Jun 1976:
Vol. 192, Issue 4246, pp. 1328-1330
DOI: 10.1126/science.192.4246.1328


By use of a new, highly selective detection technique for N-nitroso compounds, which is sensitive to picogram quantities and which is based on the catalytic cleavage of the N-NO bond and the subsequent detection of the nitrosyl radical, dimethylnitrosamine has been found in concentrations of 0.02 to 0.96 part per billion in three out of five air samples from Baltimore, Maryland, and 0.014 to 0.051 part per billion in five out of six air samples from Belle, West Virginia. The sensitivity of the analytical procedures used was 1 part in 10(12). The presence of dimethylnitrosamine has been confirmed by using the new detector in conjunction with both a gas-liquid chromatograph and a high-performance liquid chromatograph. In addition, between one and three as yet unidentified N-nitroso compounds were detected in both cities. N-Nitroso compounds were not found in air samples from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Waltham, Massachusetts.