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Identification of an analytical method interference for perfluorobutanoic acid in biological samples



Jacqueline Bangma, Jessica Reiner, Rebecca Fry, Tracey Manuck, James McCord, Mark Strynar


The investigation of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in environmental and biological samples relies on both high- and low-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) techniques. While high-resolution MS (HRMS) can be used for identification and quantification of novel compounds, low-resolution MS is the more wide-spread and affordable approach for studies examining previously identified PFAS. Of note, perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) is one of the smaller PFAS observed in biological and environmental samples and has only one major MS/MS transition, preventing the use of qualitative transitions for verification. Recently, our laboratories undertook a targeted investigation into PFAS in the human placenta from high-risk pregnancies utilizing low-resolution, targeted MS/MS. Examination of placental samples revealed a widespread (n = 93/122) chemical interferent in the quantitative ion channel for PFBA (213→169). PFBA concentrations were influenced by up to 3 ng/g. Therefore, HRMS/MS techniques were used to investigate the suspect peak, and putatively assign the interfering compound as the saturated oxo-fatty acid (SOFA) 3-oxo-dodecanoic acid.
Environmental Science and Technology Letters


PFAS, PFBA, placenta, Mass Spectrometry


Bangma, J. , Reiner, J. , Fry, R. , Manuck, T. , McCord, J. and Strynar, M. (2021), Identification of an analytical method interference for perfluorobutanoic acid in biological samples, Environmental Science and Technology Letters, [online],, (Accessed July 15, 2024)


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Created December 31, 2021, Updated November 29, 2022