The application of solid-phase microextraction to the recovery of residues of organic explosives by headspace sampling is discussed. It was found that the technique was rapid and simple. Polydimethylsiloxane and polyacrylate resin were examined as adsorption phases and the latter was found to be more effective. It was found that non-volatile explosives (PETN, RDX, and TNT) should be extracted at about 100°. Acceptable limits of detection were achieved using bench top quadrupole mass spectrometry and short extraction times (about 30 min). Increasing the extraction times to many hours resulted in significantly enhanced detection. Desorption of PETN from the solid phase was found to induce some decomposition of the explosive, but the technique was still valuable for the analysis of this compound.
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