Atmospheric-Pressure Chemical Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry (APGC/MS/MS) an Alternative to High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRGC/HRMS) for the Determination of Dioxins

Bert Van Bavel, Dawei Geng, Laura Cherta, Jaime Nácher-Mestre, Tania Portolés, Manuela Ábalos, Jordi Sauló, Esteban Abad, Jody Dunstan, Rhys Jones, Alexander Kotz, Helmut Winterhalter, Rainer Malisch, Wim Traag, Jessika Hagberg, Ingrid Ericson Jogsten, Joaquim Beltran*, Félix Hernández

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


The use of a new atmospheric-pressure chemical ionization source for gas chromatography (APGC) coupled with a tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry (MS/MS) system, as an alternative to high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), for the determination of PCDDs/PCDFs is described. The potential of using atmospheric-pressure chemical ionization (APCI) coupled to a tandem quadrupole analyzer has been validated for the identification and quantification of dioxins and furans in different complex matrices. The main advantage of using the APCI source is the soft ionization at atmospheric pressure, which results in very limited fragmentation. APCI mass spectra are dominated by the molecular ion cluster, in contrast with the high energy ionization process under electron ionization (EI). The use of the molecular ion as the precursor ion in MS/MS enhances selectivity and, consequently, sensitivity by increasing the signal-to-noise ratios (S/N). For standard solutions of 2,3,7,8-TCDD, injections of 10 fg in the splitless mode on 30- or 60-m-length, 0.25 mm inner diameter (id), and 25 μm film thickness low-polarity capillary columns (DB5MS type), signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios of >10:1 were routinely obtained. Linearity was achieved in the region (correlation coefficient of r2 > 0.998) for calibration curves ranging from 100 fg/μL to 1000 pg/μL. The results from a wide variety of complex samples, including certified and standard reference materials and samples from several QA/QC studies, which were previously analyzed by EI HRGC/HRMS, were compared with the results from the APGC/MS/MS system. Results between instruments showed good agreement both in individual congeners and toxic equivalence factors (TEQs). The data show that the use of APGC in combination with MS/MS for the analysis of dioxins has the same potential, in terms of sensitivity and selectivity, as the traditional HRMS instrumentation used for this analysis. However, the APCI/MS/MS system, as a benchtop system, is much easier to use. (Figure Presented).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9047-9053
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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