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Large-volume injection combined with gas chromatography/isotope ratio mass spectrometry for the analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons




Compound-specific stable isotope analyses of carbon require relatively large amounts of sample for reliable analyses. Commonly applied injections of 1 μL may thus be insufficient for samples with low concentrations of pollutants (e.g. air particulate matter) or when the amount of a sample is limited.


A Large-Volume Injection (LVI) method for carbon stable isotope ratio analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) was optimized in this study. Gas chromatography/combustion/isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GCCIRMS) and ion trap mass spectrometry (ITMS) were used for the determination of stable carbon isotope ratios and quantification of compounds, respectively.


The optimized method resulted in very good reproducibility, even for the most volatile PAH, naphthalene, when a small amount of higher boiling co-solvent was used. No significant fractionation of isotope ratios could be seen and the recoveries of analytes were similar to or better than that of a splitless cold injection.


Injection of 100 μL, instead of the commonly used 1 μL, increases the detection limit for PAHs significantly and/or simplifies the sample preparation step. Using our optimized method, stable carbon isotope ratios can be reliably measured in samples with concentrations of PAHs down to 0.05–0.1 ng μL–1. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.