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Determination of 43 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in air particulate matter by use of direct elution and isotope dilution gas chromatography/mass spectrometry

  • Li, Zheng1
  • Pittman, Erin N.1
  • Trinidad, Debra A.1
  • Romanoff, Lovisa C.1
  • Mulholland, James2
  • Sjödin, Andreas1
  • 1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway F-53, Atlanta, GA, 30341, USA , Atlanta (United States)
  • 2 Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Environmental and Civil Engineering, Atlanta, GA, 30332, USA , Atlanta (United States)
Published Article
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Publication Date
Nov 21, 2009
DOI: 10.1007/s00216-009-3297-4
Springer Nature


We are reporting a method for measuring 43 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and their methylated derivatives (Me-PAHs) in air particulate matter (PM) samples using isotope dilution gas chromatography/high-resolution mass spectrometry (GC/HRMS). In this method, PM samples were spiked with internal standards, loaded into solid phase extraction cartridges, and eluted by dichloromethane. The extracts were concentrated, spiked with a recovery standard, and analyzed by GC/HRMS at 10,000 resolution. Sixteen 13C-labeled PAHs and two deuterated Me-PAHs were used as internal standards to account for instrument variability and losses during sample preparation. Recovery of labeled internal standards was in the range of 86–115%. The proposed method is less time-consuming than commonly used extraction methods, such as sonication and accelerated solvent extraction (ASE), and it eliminates the need for a filtration step required after the sonication extraction method. Limits of detection ranged from 41 to 332 pg/sample for the 43 analytes. This method was used to analyze reference materials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The results were consistent with those from ASE and sonication extraction, and these results were also in good agreement with the certified or reference concentrations. The proposed method was then used to measure PAHs on PM2.5 samples collected at three sites (urban, suburban, and rural) in Atlanta, GA. The results showed distinct seasonal and spatial variation and were consistent with an earlier study measuring PM2.5 samples using an ASE method, further demonstrating the compatibility of this method and the commonly used ASE method. FigureA schematic illustration of the direct elution set up

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