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Automated online solid-phase extraction liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry investigation for simultaneous quantification of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and organophosphorus flame retardants in environmental waters

Zhong, Mengmeng, Wang, Tielong, Qi, Chengdu, Peng, Guilong, Lu, Meiling, Huang, Jun, Blaney, Lee, Yu, Gang
Journal of chromatography 2019 v.1602 pp. 350-358
additives, automation, cost effectiveness, detection limit, drinking water treatment, drugs, environmental monitoring, flame retardants, liquid chromatography, multiresidue analysis, pH, perfluorocarbons, personal care products, polymers, solid phase extraction, solvents, sorbents, tandem mass spectrometry
This work describes development of a quick and accurate online solid-phase extraction (SPE) liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method for simultaneous determination of 87 emerging organic compounds, including 22 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, 58 pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and 7 organophosphorus flame retardants, in diverse water matrices. Considering the wide range of physicochemical properties for the target contaminants, efficient analysis in one injection is challenging. Thus, key extraction and analytical parameters, including online SPE sorbent, mobile phase additives, sample pH, loading solvent pH and composition, injection volume, and valve-switching time, were systematically optimized. The final conditions, namely a polymeric reversed-phase column with alkaline samples and an acidic loading solvent, provided satisfactory results for all target analytes compared to conventional methods that employ acidic samples for multi-residue analysis. The method detection limits (MDLs) ranged from 0.16 to 5.13 ng L−1 with 85% of MDLs lower than 2 ng L−1 for sample volumes of just 1.8 mL. The method also demonstrated satisfactory accuracy with 82% of analytes exhibiting 70–130% recovery. Importantly, only 30 min was required per sample. The optimized method was successfully applied to investigate the removal efficiency of emerging contaminants in a drinking water treatment plant and to analyze the environmental occurrence of target analytes. The method is sensitive, reliable, labor-saving, and cost effective, and therefore has the potential to advance large-scale environmental monitoring programs.