Simultaneous measurement of multiple organic tracers in fine aerosols from biomass burning and fungal spores by HPLC-MS/MS


Three monosaccharide anhydrides (MAs: levoglucosan, mannosan, and galactosan) and sugar alcohols (arabitol and mannitol) are widely used as organic tracers for source identification of aerosols emitted from biomass burning and fungal spores, respectively. In the past, these two types of organic tracer have been measured separately or conjointly using different analytical techniques, with which a number of disadvantages have been experienced during the application to environmental aerosol samples, including organic solvent involved extraction, time-consuming derivatization, or poor separation efficiency due to overlapping peaks, etc. Hence, in this study a more environment-friendly, effective and integrated extraction and analytical method has been developed for simultaneous determination of the above mentioned organic tracers in the same aerosol sample using ultrasonication and high performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS). The ultrasonication assisted extraction process using ultrapure water can achieve satisfactory recoveries in the range of 100.3 ± 1.3% to 108.4 ± 1.6% for these tracers. All the parameters related to LC and MS/MS have been optimized to ensure good identification and pronounced intensity for each compound. A series of rigorous validation steps have been conducted. This newly developed analytical method using ultrasonication and HPLC-MS/MS has been successfully applied to environmental aerosol samples of different pollution levels for the simultaneous measurement of the above mentioned five organic tracers from biomass burning and fungal spores.

Publication Title

RSC Advances