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Determination of hazardous volatile organic compounds in the Hoffmann list by ion-molecule reaction mass spectrometry


H. Y. Wang, Shanghai Mass Spectrometry Center, Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 345 Lingling Road, Shanghai 200032, China.


B. Z. Liu, Technical Center of Shanghai Tobacco (Group) Corp., Shanghai 200082, China.




Off-line gas or liquid chromatographic mass spectrometry techniques are the most widely used method for analysis of hazardous, carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in mainstream cigarette smoke. However, these conventional techniques can lead to modification of VOCs during sample preparation due to the high reactivity of VOCs. Thus, the development of on-line mass spectrometric methods for analysis of VOCs is desirable to circumvent this problem.


The accurate identification of VOCs is a critical step in the analysis of cigarette smoke. Here, we use ion-molecule reaction mass spectrometry (IMR-MS) to study the behavior of standard VOCs in the Hoffmann list during this analytical procedure, and then to profile the VOCs in mainstream cigarette smoke using this on-line mass spectrometric method.


We first discuss and summarize the charge transfer (CT) ionization and further fragmentation of 20 standard VOCs in the Hoffmann list with the ion reagents Hg+, Xe+, and Kr+. The IMR-MS instrument was then connected to a Borgwaldt-RM20H rotary smoking machine in order to study VOCs in mainstream cigarette smoke on-line. Using this procedure, more than 20 VOCs were identified by IMR-MS by comparison with experimental results obtained on standard VOCs.


The IMR-MS technique can potentially result in reduced molecular fragmentation during analysis of VOCs. However, significant fragmentation still occurs during IMR-MS when the ionization energy (IE) of the ion reagent is much higher than the IE of the VOC, given that excess energy is stored in the newly formed ion during CT ionization. Given that IMR-MS cannot distinguish between isobaric compounds or isomers, we summarize the possible overlapping mass peaks from these isobaric species that may be present in analyses of VOCs. Selection of the ion reagent for IMR-MS should be based on the need to ensure CT ionization of the analytes, as well as avoiding their severe fragmentation. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.