A rapid gas chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry method for the determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and sulfur heterocycles in spilled crude oils†
Spilled crude oil samples contain various toxic compounds including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as well as sulfur heterocycles (PASHs) and their related alkylated forms (APAHs and APASHs). In this study, a method was successfully developed employing a gas chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight (GC-QToF) mass spectrometer to quantitatively analyze both PAHs/APAHs and PASHs/APASHs in these samples. With GC-QToF, the monoisotopic mass of the compounds is distinguished, allowing the PASHs/APASHs to be extracted separately from the PAHs/APAHs in crude oil. A gas chromatography triple quadrupole (GC-MS/MS) mass spectrometer was also used to confirm that a GC-QToF is the preferred instrument for analyzing these compounds. With the use of PASH/APASH standards to determine response correction factors (RCFs) in relation to PAH standards, the developed method is capable of analyzing PAHs, APAHs, PASHs, and APASHs in a single injection. The use of RCFs allowed for the development of a practical polycyclic aromatic carbon (PAC) method for analyzing a total of 77 compounds of the 2 groups in crude oil. This newly developed method was applied to spilled crude oils, demonstrating its potential in toxicological study as well as oil spill forensic investigation.