Green Analysis: Rapid-Throughput Analysis of Volatile Contaminants in Plants by Freeze-Thaw-Equilibration Sample Preparation and SPME-GC-MS Analysis


Emerging and fugitive contaminants (EFCs) can be introduced into the food chain through plants, particularly crop plants, and have threatened food safety and human health. The method for determination of volatile EFCs in plant tissues remains challenging. A new rapid, simple, precise, and accurate freeze-thaw-equilibration followed by head space (HS)-solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analytical method was developed in this study for high-throughput analysis of 1,4-dioxane and 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP) in tissues of three representative crop plants, corn, wheat, and tomato. The samples were treated by a freeze-thaw procedure, then equilibrated in a saturated sodium sulfate solution, and analyzed by HS-SPME-GC-MS method. Method detection limits ranged from 0.6 to 16 ng/g. The calibration showed good linearity (R2 > 0.9). Recoveries of spiked analytes in the three plant species ranged from 82.69 to 106.3%. The ability of plant uptake of the compounds from soil has been investigated. As demonstrated in this study, this method is used to measure the concentrations of volatile contaminants in the stems of crop plants. This method should also be applicable for other plant tissues and therefore will contribute significantly to the sight of EFC transport in plants and to assess the potential risks EFCs pose to food safety and human health.



Second Department

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This study was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, award number 1606036.

Keywords and Phrases

Crop Uptake Of Emerging Contaminant; Food Safety; Freeze-Thaw-Equilibration; Solid-Phase Microextraction-GC-MS Method; Volatile Emerging and Fugitive Contaminants

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Article - Journal

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Publication Date

12 May 2021