Development of a new method with the aim of analysing N-nitrosamines in workplace air within the scope of occupational safety - NNOccSafe

Project No. FF-FP 0461




N-nitrosamines show frequent and manifold occurrence in many different industries and pose a serious threat to employees‘ health and safety within their working environment due to their carcinogenic potential. Even in trace level concentrations, nitrosamines entail the risk of carcinogenic effects. Thus, it is the obligation of employers and trade associations alike to reliably assess the exposure to the hazardous substances, to develop prevention strategies based on the assessment and to ensure a safe working environment in high-risk fields of business. For current methods of nitrosamine analysis, however, the limits regarding detection sensitivity have reached their extent. Furthermore, they encompass time-intensive manual sample collection and preparation, which in turn allow a high susceptibility to errors. It is therefore highly relevant with respect to occupational safety, to design an automated and more robust system and to increase the sensitivity of the analysis.

As the current state of the art for workplace nitrosamine analysis has reached its limits with regard to method sensitivity, the aim of the presented research project is to realise a hundredfold more sensitive detection of nitrosamines. The development of a new measurement method based on the coupling of gas chromatography with ion mobility spectrometry in conjunction with sophisticated sampling, preparation and injection is the technological basis to achieve this goal. For this, a high degree of automation is aimed at. In the longer term, based on this work, analytical systems that can robustly and sensitively analyse nitrosamine concentrations on site at the workplace can be designed, thus allowing direct workplace monitoring.


For the new development, a measurement technique based on the coupling of gas chromatography with various ion mobility spectrometric detectors will first be created. This is then combined with modern, highly efficient and automated sample preparation technology and systematically optimised and validated towards the new performance target. The development of an integrated sampling system to combine with sample preparation and measurement technology will conclude the project. To this end, the research project is divided into six working packages that build on each other in a targeted manner and in which all parameters for optimising and increasing performance are systematically investigated and evaluated. In the end, a determined, target-oriented combination of sampling, sample preparation, injection, measurement and detection should emerge, which will be transferred to real samples and compared with the current state of the art.

Last Update:

26 Mar 2021


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Hochschule Bonn Rhein-Sieg

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

dangerous substances


measuring methods, analytical methods

Description, key words:

nitrosamins, carcinogen