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How many PAH molecules can be analyzed in a complex sample?

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are known pollutants with often cancerogenic and mutagenic properties. Humans are exposed to PAHs in many different ways during every-day life. Unfortunately, some of these compounds are carcinogenic and mutagenic at very low concentrations, and, therefore, a serious risk for human health.

PAHs are topic of many new or updated regulations; the allowed concentration limits are increasingly being lowered. In addition, more and more alkylated PAHs come into the focus of toxicologists, so that on one hand an excellent separation efficiency and on the other hand an outstanding sensitivity of the analysis method is necessary.

The most specific and sensitive analytical platform to analyze alkylated and non-alkylated PAHs is gas chromatography coupled to MS with an atmospheric pressure laser ionization source (APLI), developed by Prof. Benter's (University of Wuppertal) and my working group.

In the past only Time-of-Flight mass analyzers were coupled with APLI to GC and LC with outstanding sensitivity (e.g. 3.4 attomol chysene on column with GC-qTOF-MS).

Now we are developing a new APLI ion source for Agilent's 6495 triplequad-MS coupled to GC+GC to further increase the separation power and sensitivity for PAH analysis.

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