ABSTRACT: A quantitative method for the determination of organic acids in atmospheric particles is developed. The method couples a derivatisation step (thermally assisted hydrolysis and methylation) and a Curie point pyrolyser as a thermal desorption technique and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (CPP-GC-MS). Among the reagents tested (tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH), tetramethylammonium acetate (TMAAc) and phenyltrimethylammonium hydroxide (TMPAH)), the best performance was found using TMAAc as a derivatisation reagent for the reaction time of 4s at 510 degrees C as heating temperature. Calibration was performed for a series of fatty acids (FA), dicarboxylic acids (DCA) and terpenoic acids (TA) under these conditions. Coefficients of determination (R(2)) were between 0.94 and 0.98. Limits of detection (LOD) were in the nanogram-range between 0.1 and 3.6 ng. The method is applied on atmospheric particle samples to obtain the quantification reproducibility and quantification limits. Reproducibility was determined in terms of relative standard deviations (RSD) for ambient aerosol samples collected by a high-volume-sampler (HVS, RSD=6-45%, n=10) and a Berner impactor (BI, RSD=5-34%, n=10). Based on 24h sampling time the developed method enables quantification of all three classes of acids for both sampling techniques. Calibration data and presented volume concentrations are compared with literature data. A comparison with an off-line methylation-GC-MS using BF(3) as a derivatisation reagent and capillary electrophoresis coupled mass spectrometry (CE-MS) showed a good agreement. Minimal sample preparation is the main advantage of the developed method. Depending on the sensitivity requirements the present method can be a fast and simple alternative to GC-MS techniques with conventional sample preparation steps for semi-volatile organic acids.
Journal of chromatography. A 09/2009; 1216(38):6642-50. · 4.19 Impact Factor