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Determination of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Edible Seafood by QuEChERS-Based Extraction and Gas Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry



Abstract:  A high-throughput analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in edible seafood using QuEChERS (Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe) based extraction and gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) was developed and validated in 4 seafood matrices – crab, finfish, oyster, and shrimp. The extraction employs QuEChERS with dispersive solid phase extraction (dSPE) using cleanup sorbent that includes C18. The acetonitrile extract is partitioned into hexane and analyzed by GC-MS/MS. The procedure was validated by spike recovery experiments of 15 parent and 5 substituted PAHs at 5ppb and 25 ppb levels in the 4 matrices. Recoveries were 71%–130% with RSDs less than 14%. The limit of quantitation (LOQ) for benzo[a]pyrene are 0.4–2.5 ppb depending on matrix. For all 15 parent PAHs the LOQs are less than 10% of the Levels of Concern established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Good recoveries were also achieved in aged spikes at 5 ppb level in oyster and shrimp. Method accuracy was further evaluated by analyzing NIST Standard Reference Material 1974b. Ten of 14 incurred PAHs corresponding to the parent compounds in the present study fell within the control limits established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Using the present method approximately 20 samples every 24 h can be analyzed with confirmation.

Practical Application:  The presented analytical method could be used for seafood safety assessments to examine petroleum contaminant levels in edible seafood after an oil spill. The method is fast and sensitive.