Identification and determination of trinitrotoluenes and their degradation products using liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry

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In the environs of ammunition plants and former military area, contaminations caused by explosives and their degradation products are of great environmental relevance. During the production of worldwide mostly used explosive compound - 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene its isomers were distributed into the environment. Therefore determination of 14 selected nitroaromatic compounds (trinitrotoluenes, amino dinitrotoluenes and diamino nitrotoluenes) by means of LC-MS-MS coupling utilizing electrospray ionization was developed. Therewith, these compounds were identified and quantified on the basis of specific precursor/product ion traces using the high selectivity and sensitivity of multiple reaction monitoring mode (MRM) of a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. A new stationary phase designed especially for separation of EPA explosive mixture was used for separation of specific mixture of nitroaromatics compounds. Modification of HPLC properties enables base-line separation of all analytes and therefore improving of their MS identification and quantification. Limits of detection obtained using highly specific mass spectrometric detection MRM mode were in range 4-114 pg/μL. MS-MS qualification and quantification of explosives and their biodegradation products is feasible also in case of samples with complex matrix and high amount of co-eluting compounds. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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International Journal of Mass Spectrometry