Laboratoire de spectrométrie de masse, Centre d’analyse des résidus en traces (CART), Université de Liège, Allée de la Chimie, B6c, B-4000 Liège (Sart-Tilman), Belgique
- Key words: chromatography, gas, environmental pollutants, mass fragmentography, spectrum analysis mass, toxicology
- DOI : 10.1684/ers.2006.0016
- Page(s) : 489-501
- Published in: 2006
Biomonitoring consists of measuring toxic compound levels in selected human matrices at the ultra-trace (sub-picogram) level. It requires the use of very sensitive analytical tools able to measure simultaneously several families of compounds under strict quality control criteria. The reference analytic technique with the necessary sensitivity — gas chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry (GC-HRMS) — is limited, however, in the number of compounds that can be measured simultaneously. It is also particularly expensive to operate. This report presents two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GCxGC-TOFMS), an emerging technique offering several advantages for human biomonitoring. Its high peak capacity allows a large number of compounds to be separated per unit of time. Its specificity in quantifying target analytes is good. The difference between measurements from the reference GC-HRMS technique and GCxGC-TOFMS is less than 20%. The precision of GCxGC-TOFMS ranges from 1 to 15%, a wider range than for GC-HRMS (0.5-5%). GCxGC-TOFMS also allows the screening and identification of unknown toxicants in the same sample extracts as those containing target analytes without any additional workload. The GCxGC-TOFMS technique is described and explained. Several qualitative and quantitative examples are given to provide an idea of the advantages and drawbacks of this approach for biomonitoring.