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In the absence of volatilization losses, the short-term concentration stabilities of benzene, toluene, trans-1,2-dichloroethylene, and trichloroethylene were assessed in soil subsamples. Previous holding time studies for this matrix failed to eliminate volatilization as a variable, making them difficult to interpret. Here, vapor-fortified soil subsamples held in sealed glass ampoules for 14 days at 22°C experienced appreciable reductions in benzene and toluene concentrations, presumably attributable to biodegradation. When the same fortified soil was held as a subsample for either headspace or purge-and-trap analyses, it showed an appreciable reduction in toluene and a complete loss of benzene over a 14-day holding period at 4°C. In contrast, fortified soils held in sealed glass ampoules at 4°C, or dispersed in methanol and held at 22°C, showed no significant analyte losses over periods of 20 and 98 days, respectively.
holding time, volatile organic compounds, soil samples, biodegradation
Research physical scientist, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, NH