This Fact Sheet presents data for analysis of nanogram-per-liter concentrations of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) and three other ether gasoline oxygenates, including methyl tert-pentyl ether (TAME), diisopropyl ether (DIPE), and ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), by purge- and-trap capillary-column gas chromatography. Long-term method detection levels (LT-MDLs) for MTBE, TAME, DIPE, and ETBE ranged from 15 to 83 nanograms per liter (0.015 to 0.083 microgram per liter). Nanogram-per-liter-concentration detections are reported if all of the identification criteria are met, whereas previous methods censored detections at a pre-determined method reporting level. The reporting level for this method is defined as two times the LT-MDL, does not censor detections at less than this concentration, and is referred to as the nondetection value (NDV). Bias and variability data from multiple analyses, analysts, and instruments over a 60-day period show the oxygenate recoveries ranging from 100 to 109 percent, with 6 to 8 percent relative standard deviation. MTBE, TAME, DIPE, and ETBE were not detected in the analysis of 225 laboratory reagent blanks from January to December 1997. A preservation study in ground water and surface water indicates that all the oxygenates are stable at pH 2 for up to 216 days, with recoveries ranging from 94 to 115 percent on day 216, and relative standard deviations ranging from 5 to 9 percent for the duration of the study.
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USGS Numbered Series
Laboratory Method for Analysis of Small Concentrations of Methyl tert-Butyl Ether and Other Ether Gasoline Oxygenates in Water