Extraction and Analysis of Trifluoroacetic Acid in Environmental Waters

Chad E. Wujcik, Thomas M. Cahill, James N. Seiber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), a mildly phytotoxic compound, is a stable atmospheric breakdown product of HFC-134a, HCFC-123, and HCFC-124. An extraction and analytical method has been developed for the routine analysis of low ppt levels of TFA in aqueous samples. TFA can be quantitatively recovered from most environmental waters by an extraction procedure using a commercial anion-exchange disk. In saline samples (conductivity >620 μS), where the presence of competing anions interfered with recovery, a liquid-liquid extraction cleanup was necessary. After extraction of TFA from water, the dried disk was placed in a headspace vial containing 10% sulfuric acid in methanol and the vial sealed and then vortexed for 30 s. The sulfuric acid-methanol solution extracts trifluoroacetate anion (TFA) from the anion-exchange matrix and, when heated, quantitatively converts it to the methyl ester, which is then analyzed by automated headspace gas chromatography using electron capture or mass spectrometry detection. Several environmental samples in addition to laboratory spike solutions were successfully extracted and analyzed with this technique. Recoveries averaged 108.2% for reagent water spiked at levels from 53 to 2110 ng/L with relative standard deviations ranging from 0.3 to 8.4%. The instrument's limit of detection for TFA standard was 3.3 ng. The limit of quantitation for the extraction and analytical technique was 36 ng/L. Three water samples can be prepared for automated analysis in 20 min using this technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4074-4080
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Extraction and Analysis of Trifluoroacetic Acid in Environmental Waters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this