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Levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and styrene (BTEXS) find their way into olive trees and hence into the olives and olive oil mainly as a result of the presence of vehicle exhaust in …
Levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and styrene (BTEXS) find their way into olive trees and hence into the olives and olive oil mainly as a result of the presence of vehicle exhaust in ambient air. Although there is widespread concern about the presence of these carcinogenic compounds in olive oil, no definitive methods or limits have yet been prescribed.
Various methods have been developed to detect and quantify these compounds down to levels of 5ng/g (5 ppb w/w). In this work, we have developed a simple method to determine these components in olive oil using headspace (HS) extraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).
Sample preparation simply comprises dispensing and sealing 10g of olive into a standard 22-mL headspace vial and sampling the headspace vapor after being equilibrated at 90°C. The vapor is introduced into a Carbowax capillary column for chromatographic separation. Detection, identification and quantification is performed using a quadrupole MS system with a novel ionizer and detection system that enables detection limits, in single ion monitoring (SIM) mode, down to below 0.5ng/g without the need for headspace vapor preconcentration. The analysis is fully automated and takes just 10.5 minutes for the chromatography and an additional 3.5 minutes for cool-down and equilibration between analyses.
Excellent quantitative performance has been demonstrated and the system is easily able to see concentrations of these compounds in the range 0.9ng/g to 126.1ng/g in olive oil bought from a local supermarket.
Examples of the chromatography and quantitative performance will be presented.