Thin-film microextraction coupled to LC-ESI-MS/MS for determination of quaternary ammonium compounds in water samples

Boyacı, Ezel
Sparham, Chris
Pawliszyn, Janusz
The dual nature of the quaternary ammonium compounds, having permanently charged hydrophilic quaternary ammonium heads and long-chain hydrophobic tails, makes the sample preparation step and analysis of these compounds challenging. A high-throughput method based on thin-film solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry was developed for simultaneous quantitative analysis of nine benzylic and aliphatic quaternary ammonium compounds. Chromatographic separation and detection of analytes were obtained in reverse-phase mode in 8 min using a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. Hydrophilic lipophilic balance particle-coated blades were found to be the most suitable among the different coatings tested in terms of recoveries and carryover on the blades. For desorption solvents, 70/30, v/v (A/B) with 0.1 % formic acid (where A is 10 mM ammonium acetate in acetonitrile/water (95/5, v/v) and B is 0.1 % (v/v) formic acid in isopropyl alcohol) was shown to be the most efficient solvent for the desorption of the analytes from the SPME sorbent. The SPME method was optimised in terms of extraction, pH, and preconditioning, as well as extraction and desorption times. Optimum conditions were 45 min of extraction time and 15 min of desorption time, all with agitation. The extraction was found to be optimum in a range of pH 6.0 to 8.0, which is consistent with the natural pH of water samples. Wide linear dynamic ranges with the developed method were obtained for each compound, enabling the application of the method for a wide range of concentrations. The developed method was validated according to the Food and Drug Administration criteria. The proposed method is the first SPME-based approach describing the applicability of the high-throughput thin-film SPME in a 96-well system for analysis of such challenging compounds.

Citation Formats
E. Boyacı, C. Sparham, and J. Pawliszyn, “Thin-film microextraction coupled to LC-ESI-MS/MS for determination of quaternary ammonium compounds in water samples,” ANALYTICAL AND BIOANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY, vol. 406, no. 2, pp. 409–420, 2014, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: