Simultaneous testing of multiclass organic contaminants in food and environment by liquid chromatography/dielectric barrier discharge ionization-mass spectrometry†
A Dielectric Barrier Discharge Ionization (DBDI) LC/MS interface is based on the use of a low-temperature helium plasma, which features the possibility of simultaneous ionization of species with a wide variety of physicochemical properties. In this work, the performance of LC/DBDI-MS for trace analysis of highly relevant species in food and environment has been examined. Over 75 relevant species including multiclass priority organic contaminants and residues such as pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organochlorine species, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and drugs of abuse were tested. LC/DBDI-MS performance for this application was assessed and compared with standard LC/MS sources (electrospray ionization (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI)). The used benchtop Orbitrap mass spectrometer features a 10 Hz polarity switching mode, so that both positive and negative ion mode acquisitions are possible with acquisition cycles matching the requirements of fast liquid chromatography. Both polar and nonpolar species (including those typically analyzed by GC/electron ionization-MS) can be tested in a single run using polarity switching mode. The methodology was found to be effective in detecting a wide array of organic compounds at concentration levels in the low ng L−1 to μg kg−1 range in wastewater and food matrices, respectively. The linearity was evaluated in an olive oil extract, obtaining good correlation coefficients in the studied range. Additionally, minor matrix effects (≤15% of signal suppression or enhancement) were observed for most of the studied analytes in this complex fatty matrix. The results obtained were compared with data from both ESI and APCI sources, obtaining a merged coverage between ESI and APCI in terms of analyte ionization and higher overall sensitivity for the proposed ion source based on the DBD principle. The use of this approach further extends the coverage of current LC/MS methods towards an even larger variety of chemical species including both polar and nonpolar (non-ESI amenable) species and may find several applications in fields such as food and environment testing or metabolomics where GC/MS and LC/MS are combined to cover as many different species as possible.