Question: Do you have experience using a gas chromatograph?

liz is asking a question about general
Follow this topic

by liz | November 15, 2019 15:54 | #21495

Has anyone has experience with using a gas chromatograph? If so, we'd love to hear about it!

Gas chromatographs came up during this month's OpenHour (November 2019). Chris Nidel (also a guest on June 2016 OpenHour "Concepts of Proof") shared the following story about his experience as an environmental lawyer investigating side-by-side with a community affected by a creosote plant (the notes below are my transcript of his verbal presentation with some paraphrasing):

In Oregon, while standing near a park near a creosote plant during the day, you can't smell anything and everything looks fine. Later in the day you'd come back and the park would smell horrific, naphthalene everywhere, etc.

GC is the abbreviation for "gas chromatograph" which can be used to detect a wide variety of possible contaminants. We could put a "GC" in the living-room of an effected community member, run the hose outside, and get near-real-time samples that show that when the sun goes down and the night-shift comes in they open up the "fart valve" and poison the community.

We used a model of gas chromatograph called the FROG 5000, here's the link: . We rented it from a 3rd party distributor for a cost of $500-$1000 for 2-3 days up to a week, but we are also in conversation with manufacturer.

The closer we can get to "rigorous lab data" the more powerful advocacy is. If a community can get donations, use a non-profit, etc, fancy tools are a very powerful way to go from community experience (headaches, smells, nosebleeds) to data that a regulator can't ignore.


agreed, however it's important for community folks to partner with a trustworthy scientist to make sure that they are collecting meaningful data- these instruments can be tricky to operate. Making sure they are calibrated, etc properly is important too.

Reply to this comment...

Yes, I have a lot of experience with a number of types of gc.

First, if you are talking about buying a frog 5000, realize that you are really talking about setting up a certified lab. Which means sops, certifications, and a bunch of other things.

The frog 5000 is a very unique gc. Most gcs use helium or hydrogen as carrier gases. The frog uses air. It leads to less than ideal separation, but saves a lot of money.

The frog uses a pid as a detector and ids the compound by retention time. This is not good. With chromatography, the usual rule is retention time and spectrum are used for a no argument match. This usually means a mass spec detector and a lot of money. There are exceptions, but in court, mass spec holds up better than pid.

It's a start.

Good luck.

Thank you @Ag8n!

Reply to this comment...

Log in to comment