New approaches for the mass spectrometric determination of trace concentrations and congener group patterns of chlorinated paraffins in biota

Reth, Margot. New approaches for the mass spectrometric determination of trace concentrations and congener group patterns of chlorinated paraffins in biota. 2006, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_7617

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The determination of chlorinated paraffins (CPs) in the environment is important, since
CPs are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. However, the analysis of these complex
mixtures containing thousands of isomers is also a demanding task. CP analysis and
especially the quantification of CPs are far from being well established. In this work, new
methodologies were developed for the determination of CPs in biota by low-resolution
mass spectrometry (LRMS).
The use of expensive high-resolution mass spectrometry was avoided. Therefore, existing
clean-up methods were improved to enhance the selectivity as well as the unequivocal
identification of CP congener groups. The developed method comprises the following
steps: After cold column extraction, lipids were removed by adsorption chromatography on
silica gel impregnated with sulfuric acid. Adsorption chromatography on Florisil® allowed
the elimination of interfering compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and
toxaphenes, which interfere the CP analysis by high-resolution gas chromatography
(HRGC) coupled to LRMS and employing electron capture negative ionisation (ECNI).
The analysis of complex CP mixtures with short- (SCCPs, C10-13) and medium- (MCCPs,
C14-17) chain lengths can be disturbed by mass overlap, if LRMS in the ECNI mode is
employed. This is mainly caused by CP congeners with the same nominal mass but five
carbon atoms more and two chlorine atoms less and can lead to an overestimation of the
total CP concentration. Therefore, a procedure based on a precise check of isotope ratios,
retention time ranges and signal shapes was developed to unequivocally identify the most
important CP congener groups.
Prior to this work, quantification procedures for CPs were not well established, and
systematic errors could not always be avoided. Therefore, a new quantification procedure
was developed to overcome the strong dependence of ECNI results on the chlorine content
of the standard, and to avoid a tedious and time-consuming selection of the “most similar”
reference standard. A linear correlation could be established between the total response
factor of a CP mixture and its chlorine content. This allowed the compensation of errors
due to differences between the degree of chlorination of CPs in the sample and standard.
Quantification errors were considerably reduced and CP pattern matching procedures
between standard and sample became unnecessary.
Furthermore, HRGC electron ionisation tandem mass spectrometry (EI-MS/MS) was used
for the fast determination of the total CP amount. This method was successfully applied to
the determination of total CP concentrations in fish, human milk and eggs and provided a
first insight into CP levels.
ECNI-LRMS was employed for the determination of CP levels and congener group
patterns in different fishes and seabirds from various regions in Europe (North and Baltic
Sea, Central Europe, European Arctic). Results revealed that SCCPs and MCCPs are
detectable in fish in the ng/g range. Hence, concentrations are comparable to levels of other
persistent organic pollutants (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxaphenes and
polybrominated diphenylethers).
SCCP concentrations were between 54 and 1428 ng/g lipid weight (lw), MCCP
concentrations varied between <30 and 2448 ng/g lw in cod, dab and flounder from
different locations in the North and Baltic Sea.
SCCPs and, for the first time, MCCPs could be detected in biota from the European Arctic.
Between 89 and 861 ng/g lw of SCCPs and 107-3717 ng/g lw of MCCPs were detectable
in fish and seabirds captured on Bear Island, and between 35 and 139 ng/g lw of SCCPs
and 14-96 ng/g lw of MCCPs were found in cod captured close to Iceland and northwest
Norway (Lofoten).
Furthermore, CP levels were determined in different fish species from rivers in south
Germany (Neckar and Rhine) and north Switzerland (Liechtensteiner Binnenkanal and
Necker). The total CP amount was first estimated by EI-MS/MS. Concentrations were
between 19 and 256 ng/g wet weight (ww). Furthermore, SCCP and MCCP concentrations
were determined for selected samples by ECNI-LRMS. Concentrations were comparable
to PCB 138 or PCB 153. Linear correlations were observed between indicator PCBs and
SCCPs as well as PCB 180 and MCCPs.
CPs were detectable in human milk as well as in human foodstuff by EI-MS/MS. Total CP
concentrations were 2.6-9.6 ng/g ww in human milk and 20-59 ng/g ww in poultry eggs,
both from south Germany.
Furthermore, congener and homologue group patterns of technical CP mixtures and
standards were investigated and compared to those in brown trout from Central Europe and
cod from the Baltic Sea and northwest Europe. SCCP mixtures contained mainly C11 and
C12 congeners (>63%) followed by C13 and C10, whereas C14 congeners (>45%) followed
by C15 dominated in MCCPs mixtures. Minor components were C16 (<14%) and C17
congeners (<2%). Congener groups with six, seven and eight chlorine atoms were most
abundant in all fish samples indicating their specific potential for bioaccumulation.
Similarities and differences in the CP mixtures were further elucidated by principal
components analysis (PCA). PCA revealed that differences in CP compositions were
mainly caused by their chlorine content. In addition, MCCPs were differentiated by their
proportion of C14 congeners. Standard SCCP mixtures were similar to technical mixtures
of similar chlorine content, whereas MCCP standard mixtures were not, due to their low
abundance of C15-17 congeners. CPs in brown trout and cod showed similarities to technical
CP mixtures and, hence, no hint for CP biotransformation. However, SCCPs in cod were
clustered according to their geographic origin by PCA.
Advisors:Oehme, Michael
Committee Members:Vetter, Walter
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Chemie > Former Organization Units Chemistry > Physikalische Chemie (Maier)
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:7617
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:86
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:23 Feb 2018 11:42
Deposited On:13 Feb 2009 15:40

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