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Determination of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Congeners by Gas Chromatography Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry



John R. Kucklick, William C. Davis


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely-used as flame retardants in electronic devices and upholstery. These are mobile in the environment, persistent, and bioaccumulative and are frequently found at low (pg/g) concentrations in many environmental matrices, including blood. Obtaining the lowest instrumental detection limits for PBDEs is necessary for analyzing environmental matrices were concentrations of some PBDE congeners may be low (pg/g to ng/g). Many analytical laboratories currently use gas chromatography coupled with negative chemical ionization mass spectrometry (GC/NCI-MS) for PBDE analysis as this has better sensitivity relative to the more commonly employed GC/electron impact-MS (GC/EI-MS). The extreme sensitivity of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers (ICP-MS) for atomic information makes GC/ICP-MS a promising alternative for analyzing PBDEs at low concentrations or in small sample sizes. In this work, the instrumental detection limits of a GC/NCI-MS were directly compared to those of a GC/ICP-MS for a mixture of 28 PBDE congeners including the perbrominated PBDE-209 congener. The GC/ICP-MS instrumental method demonstrated superior sensitivity over the GC/NCI-MS for all of the PBDE congeners with absolute detection limits ranging from 0.18 pg 0.34 pg as compared to 1.45 pg 24.33 pg, respectively. The method was then used to quantify PBDE congeners in Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1941b Organics in Marine Sediment and 2977 Freeze Dried Mussel Tissue (Organic Contaminants and Trace Elements).
Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, ICP-MS, Speciation


Kucklick, J. and Davis, W. (2008), Determination of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether Congeners by Gas Chromatography Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry (Accessed July 19, 2024)


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Created December 1, 2008, Updated February 19, 2017