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Limitations of low resolution mass spectrometry in the electron capture negative ionization mode for the analysis of short- and medium-chain chlorinated paraffins

Reth, Margot, Oehme, Michael
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2004 v.378 no.7 pp. 1741-1747
alkanes, carbon, chlorine, ionization, ions, isotopes, mass spectrometry, mixing
The analysis of complex mixtures of chlorinated paraffins (CPs) with short (SCCPs, C₁₀–C₁₃) and medium (MCCPs, C₁₄–C₁₇) chain lengths can be disturbed by mass overlap, if low resolution mass spectrometry (LRMS) in the electron capture negative ionization mode is employed. This is caused by CP congeners with the same nominal mass, but with five carbon atoms more and two chlorine atoms less; for example C₁₁H₁₇ ³⁷Cl³⁵Cl₆ (m/z 395.9) and C₁₆H₂₉ ³⁵Cl₅ (m/z 396.1). This can lead to an overestimation of congener group quantity and/or of total CP concentration. The magnitude of this interference was studied by evaluating the change after mixing a SCCP standard and a MCCP standard 1+1 (S+MCCP mixture) and comparing it to the single standards. A quantification of the less abundant C₁₆ and C₁₇ congeners present in the MCCP standard was not possible due to interference from the major C₁₁ and C₁₂ congeners in the SCCPs. Also, signals for SCCPs (C₁₀–C₁₂) with nine and ten chlorine atoms were mimicked by MCCPs (C₁₅–C₁₇) with seven and eight chlorine atoms (for instance C₁₀H₁₂Cl₁₀ by C₁₅H₂₄Cl₈). A similar observation was made for signals from C₁₅–C₁₇ CPs with four and five chlorine atoms resulting from SCCPs (C₁₀–C₁₂) with six and seven chlorine atoms (such as C₁₅H₂₈Cl₄ by C₁₀H₁₆Cl₆) in the S+MCCP mixture. It could be shown that the quantification of the most abundant congeners (C₁₁–C₁₄) is not affected by any interference. The determination of C₁₀ and C₁₅ congeners is partly disturbed, but this can be detected by investigating isotope ratios, retention time ranges and the shapes of the CP signals. Also, lower chlorinated compounds forming [M+Cl]⁻ as the most abundant ion instead of [M-Cl]⁻ are especially sensitive to systematic errors caused by superposition of ions of different composition and the same nominal mass.