In an experiment we had a series of air samples which were analysed through GC-MS, before using TargetLynx software to integrate the mass spectrum obtained.

So I now have the specific peak areas for a number of compounds (for example CFC-12 has an area of 28335299.35m^2) and a calibration standard for each specific gas investigated. For example CFC-12 has a mixing ratio (ppt) of 539.894.

With this information how could I determine the actual abundance of CFC-12 from the air sample?

Apologies for any confusion! Thanks!

  • $\begingroup$ What is the peak area for the CFC-12 at 540 ppt? That is MUCH smaller that your sample so you really need to use a concentration of CFC-12 standard that gives a similar or somewhat greater peak area. Running the samples at a few concentrations comparable to that of your sample (similar peak areas), ranging over a factor of 10 or so (not a factor of 50k like in your case!) $\endgroup$
    – airhuff
    Jan 20, 2017 at 3:08

1 Answer 1


If you only have a single calibration standard concentration for each compound as your question implies, then you will simply need to calculate a calibration factor for each compound then multiply your measured peak area by the calibration factor.

This is also know as a single point calibration and it is important that the peak area of the standard is greater than that of your sample or you might be out of the linear response range of the instrument. Also, a single point calibration assumes that the instrument response is linear from zero up to the concentration of the standard, or at least that the concentration of your sample is very close to that of your standard.

In your example you would calculate the calibration factor as:

$\mathrm{539.894\ ppt / 28335299\ m^2 = 1.905\ x\ 10^{-5}\ ppt/m^2}$

Then if you had a sample with a peak area of 18335299.12, the concentration of CFC - 12 would be:

$\mathrm{18335299.12\ m^2\ x\ 1.905\ x\ 10^{-5}\ ppt/m^2\ =349\ ppt}$

Note: The calibration factor is often calculated in the inverse manner of my example above. If calculated in that way, then of course you would divide your peak area by the calibration factor.


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