Peer-Reviewed Publications

      Pitfalls in the Detection of Volatiles Associated with Heated Tobacco and e-Vapor Products When Using PTR-TOF-MS

      Bielik, N.; Correia, D.; Crespo, K. R.; Goujon-Ginglinger, C.; Mitova, M. I.
      May 23, 2024

      We investigated the applicability of proton transfer reaction-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF-MS) for quantitative analysis of mixtures comprising glycerin, acetol, glycidol, acetaldehyde, acetone, and propylene glycol. While PTR-TOF-MS offers real-time simultaneous determination, the method selectivity is limited when analyzing compounds with identical elemental compositions or when labile compounds present in the mixture produce fragments that generate overlapping ions with other matrix components. In this study, we observed significant fragmentation of glycerin, acetol, glycidol, and propylene glycol during protonation via hydronium ions (H3O+). Nevertheless, specific ions generated by glycerin (m/z 93.055) and propylene glycol (m/z 77.060) enabled their selective detection. To thoroughly investigate the selectivity of the method, various mixtures containing both isotope-labeled and unlabeled compounds were utilized. The experimental findings demonstrated that when samples contained high levels of glycerin, it was not feasible to perform time-resolved analysis in H3O+ mode for acetaldehyde, acetol, and glycidol. To overcome the observed selectivity limitations associated with the H3O+ reagent ions, alternative ionization modes were investigated. The ammonium ion mode proved appropriate for analyzing propylene glycol (m/z 94.086) and acetone (m/z 76.076) mixtures. Concerning the nitric oxide mode, specific m/z were identified for acetaldehyde (m/z 43.018), acetone (m/z 88.039), glycidol (m/z 73.028), and propylene glycol (m/z 75.044). It was concluded that considering the presence of multiple product ions and the potential influence of other compounds, it is crucial to conduct a thorough selectivity assessment when employing PTR-TOF-MS as the sole method for analyzing compounds in complex matrices of unknown composition.