Resin acids are constituents of natural and technical products of widespread use. Exposure is known to cause health effects in the airways and on the skin. Liquid chromatography/positive ion electrospray-mass spectrometry (HPLC/pos ESI-MS) was investigated for determination of 7-oxodehydroabietic (7-OXO), dehydroabietic (DHAA) and abietic acid (AA) in wood dust-containing air samples as a derivatisation-free alternative to the GC/FID HSE method 83/2, developed by the Health and Safety Executive UK. The resin acid 7-OXO was measured as a marker for oxidised resin acids, which are known to be the main contact allergens in colophonium. The found detection limits were 0.42 ng m−3 for 7-OXO, 5.2 ng m−3 for DHAA and 9.4 ng m−3 for AA, respectively, which are considerably lower than with the GC/FID method (24, 115 and 89 ng m−3). The two methods correlated well, although consistently and significantly lower concentrations of 7-OXO were detected with LC/MS. The higher concentration of this compound with MDHS 83/2 is suggested to be an artefact from the derivatisation step in the presence of soluble wood dust remains.
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