Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

Ionization of EPA contaminants in direct and dopant-assisted atmospheric pressure photoionization and atmospheric pressure laser ionization.

PMID 25828352


Seventy-seven EPA priority environmental pollutants were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) equipped with an optimized atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI) and an atmospheric pressure laser ionization (APLI) interface with and without dopants. The analyzed compounds included e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitro compounds, halogenated compounds, aromatic compounds with phenolic, acidic, alcohol, and amino groups, phthalate and adipatic esters, and aliphatic ethers. Toluene, anisole, chlorobenzene, and acetone were tested as dopants. The widest range of analytes was ionized using direct APPI (66/77 compounds). The introduction of dopants decreased the amount of compounds ionized in APPI (e.g., 54/77 with toluene), but in many cases the ionization efficiency increased. While in direct APPI the formation of molecular ions via photoionization was the main ionization reaction, dopant-assisted (DA) APPI promoted ionization reactions, such as charge exchange and proton transfer. Direct APLI ionized a much smaller amount of compounds than APPI (41/77 compounds), showing selectivity towards compounds with low ionization energies (IEs) and long-lived resonantly excited intermediate states. DA-APLI, however, was able to ionize a higher amount of compounds (e.g. 51/77 with toluene), as the ionization took place entirely through dopant-assisted ion/molecule reactions similar to those in DA-APPI. Best ionization efficiency in APPI and APLI (both direct and DA) was obtained for PAHs and aromatics with O- and N-functionalities, whereas nitro compounds and aliphatic ethers were the most difficult to ionize. Halogenated aromatics and esters were (mainly) ionized in APPI, but not in APLI.