Development of a liquid chromatographic method based on ultraviolet-visible and electrospray ionization mass spectrometric detection for the identification of nitrocatechols and related tracers in biomass burning atmospheric organic aerosol
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Pharmacy
Rapid communications in mass spectrometry. - London
, p. 793-804
University of Antwerp
RATIONALE Studying the chemical composition of biomass burning aerosol (BBA) is very important in order to assess their impact on the climate and the biosphere. In the present study, we focus on the characterization of some newly recognized biomass burning aerosol tracers including methyl nitrocatechols, nitroguaiacols and 4-nitrocatechol, but also on nitrophenols, methyl nitrophenols and nitrosalicylic acids, using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. METHODS For the purpose of their separation and detection in atmospheric aerosol, a new chromatographic method was initially developed based on reversed-phase chromatography coupled with ultraviolet/visible (UV/Vis) detection. The method was afterwards transferred to a liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization linear ion trap mass spectrometry (LC/ESI-LITMS) system in order to identify the targeted analytes in winter aerosol from the city of Maribor, Slovenia, using their chromatographic retention times and characteristic (−)ESI product ion (MS2) spectra. RESULTS The fragmentation patterns of analytes obtained with LITMS are presented. Additional nitro-aromatic compounds (m/z 168 and 182) closely related to the targeted nitrocatechols and nitroguaiacols were detected in the aerosol. According to their MS2 spectra these compounds could be attributed to methyl homologues of methyl nitrocatechols and nitroguaiacols. CONCLUSIONS The proposed LC/MS method results in a better separation and specificity for the targeted analytes. Several nitro-aromatic compounds were detected in urban BBA. The LC/MS peak intensity of the newly detected methyl nitrocatechols and nitroguaiacols is comparable to that of the methyl nitrocatechols, which also qualifies them as suitable molecular tracers for secondary biomass burning aerosol.