Polymericmaterials, both “inert” and degradable, constantly interact with the
surroundings. Because of this interaction changes take place in the polymer
matrix and small molecules are released to the environment. Reliable methods
for testing biodegradability and environmental interaction of renewable
resources and biodegradable polymers are required to answer the remaining
questions concerning the environmental impact of these future materials.
In the case of degradable polymers multiple factors affect the degradation
process and small changes in the chemical structure or product formulation
may change the susceptibility to degradation or cause different degradation
product patterns, rendering the product less environmentally adaptable. Development
of sustainable polymeric materials also demands the development
of more migration-resistant polymer additives. Chromatographic techniques
especially gas chromatography and liquid chromatography preferentially coupled
to mass spectrometric detection are ideal tools for studying these low
molecular weight compounds and polymer–environment interactions.
In the first chapter of this volume chromatographic fingerprinting and indicator
product concepts are presented as tools for evaluating polymeric materials.
These concepts have great potential in evaluation of degradation state
and life-time/service-life of polymeric materials, evaluation of anti-oxidant or
pro-oxidant systems, degradation mechanism and processing parameters as
well as rapid comparison and quality control of materials. The solid-phase microextraction
technique has rapidly found applications in numerous fields. The
second chapter reviews the extraction of polymer degradation products and
additives, monomer-rests, odour compounds, migrants from packaging and
medical products as well as extractionof polymer additives fromenvironmental
the high versatility and potential of this technique also in polymer analysis.