DESI MS based screening method for phthalates in consumer goods
Phthalates are used as plasticizes in many everyday items, but some of them are known as hormone disruptors, being especially harmful during childhood. The European Union therefore restricted their application in children's toys and certain food packaging to 0.1%w. Due to the ever increasing number of plastic-containing consumer goods, rapid screening methods are needed to ensure and improve consumer safety in the future. In this study we evaluated the performance of desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry (MS) for rapid quantitative screening of phthalates in toys. DESI allowed for direct surface sampling of the toys under atmospheric conditions with minimal sample preparation, while the high performance mass spectrometer used provided a high sensitivity and reliable identification via accurate mass measurements, high mass resolving power and MS/MS capabilities. External calibration curves for six banned phthalates (DBP, BBP, DEHP, DNOP, DINP and DIDP) were obtained from matrix-matched reference materials. Coefficients of determination were greater than 0.985, LOQs ranged from 0.02%w (DIDP) to 2.26%w (DINP) and the relative standard deviation of the calibration curve slope was less than 7.8% for intraday and 11.4% for interday comparison. The phthalate contents of eleven authentic samples were determined in a proof-of-concept approach using DESI MS and results were compared to those from confirmatory methods. The phthalate content was correctly assigned with relative deviations ranging from −20% to +10% for the majority of samples. Given further optimization and automation, DESI MS is likely to become a useful tool for rapid and accurate phthalate screening in the future.