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Qualitative analysis of halogenated organic contaminants in American eel by gas chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Byer, Jonathan D., Pacepavicius, Grazina, Lebeuf, Michel, Brown, R. Stephen, Backus, Sean, Hodson, Peter V., Alaee, Mehran
Chemosphere 2014 v.116 pp. 98-103
Anguilla rostrata, bromides, bromine, chemical analysis, eel, flame retardants, ionization, mass spectrometry, metabolism, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, prediction, principal component analysis, qualitative analysis, spectrometers
Target compound analysis with scanning mass spectrometers such as quadrupole or magnetic sector instruments is used extensively in environmental chemistry because of the selectivity, sensitivity, and robustness. Yet, target compound analysis selectively ignores the majority of compounds present in a sample, especially in complex matrices like fish. In this study, time-of-flight mass spectrometry was used to screen for and identify halogenated compounds in American eels (Anguilla rostrata). Individual and then pooled eel samples were analysed using electron ionization and electron capture negative ionization (ECNI) modes. Eels were differentiated by principal component analysis of chemical profiles and were grouped corresponding to their capture location, all with a single instrument injection per sample. Bromine containing compounds were further investigated by taking advantage of the selectivity of ECNI by utilizing the Br− ion m/z 79 and 81. A total of 51 brominated compounds were detected and their identities were attempted by authentic standards, library searching, and/or chemical formula prediction based on accurate mass measurements. Several PBDEs were identified in the samples, and the majority of the non-PBDEs identified were bromophenols, bromoanisoles, and bromobenzenes. These classes of compounds are synthesized for use in flame retardant production either as intermediates or as final products. However, their occurrence in eels was most likely the result of metabolism or break-down products of high production volume flame retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers and bromophenoxy compounds.