Advantages of Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization in Gas Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry: Pyrethroid Insecticides as a Case Study

Portolés, T.; Mol, J.G.J.; Sancho, J.V.; Hernández, F.


Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC/MS) has been extensively applied for determination of volatile, nonpolar, compounds in many applied fields like food safety, environment, or toxicology. The wide majority of methods reported use electron ionization (EI), which may result in extensive fragmentation of analytes compromising selectivity and sensitivity. This might also complicate the application of tandem MS due to lack of specific/abundant precursor ions. Pyrethroids are examples of compounds with this behavior. In this work, the potential of atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI), a softer form of ionization, combined with GC and a triple quadrupole mass analyzer was investigated, taking pyrethroids as a case study and their determination in fruit and vegetables as example application. Ionization and fragmentation behavior of eight pyrethroids (bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, permethrin, ¿-cyhalothrin, fluvalinate, fenvalerate, and deltamethrin) by APCI were studied. The formation of a highly abundant (quasi) molecular ion was the main goal because of the enhanced selectivity when used as precursor ion in tandem MS. The addition of water as a modifier was tested to promote the generation of protonated molecules, resulting in notable improvement of sensitivity and selectivity for most compounds. The excellent detectability (low detection limits (LODs)