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Branched Perfluorooctane Sulfonate Isomer Quantification and Characterization in Blood Serum Samples by HPLC/ESI-MS(/MS)

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journal contribution
posted on 15.10.2009, 00:00 by Nicole Riddell, Gilles Arsenault, Jonathan P. Benskin, Brock Chittim, Jonathan W. Martin, Alan McAlees, Robert McCrindle
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is a global contaminant and is currently among the most prominent contaminants in human blood and wildlife samples. Although “total PFOS” (∑PFOS) analytical methods continue to be the most commonly used for quantification, recent analytical method developments have made it possible to resolve the various isomers of PFOS by HPLC-MS/MS. Characterized technical PFOS standards (i.e., containing a mixture of PFOS isomers) are now available that enable isomer specific quantification of PFOS, however the advantages of such an analysis have not yet been examined systematically. Herein, PFOS isomers have been individually quantified for the first time in real samples and the results are compared to a traditional ∑PFOS method; the influence of analytical standards and isomer specific electrospray and MS/MS behavior were also investigated. The two human serum standard reference materials chosen for analysis contained dramatically different PFOS isomer profiles (∼30−50% total branched isomers) emphasizing that isomer patterns should not be ignored and may provide useful information on exposure sources (i.e., direct exposure to PFOS vs indirect exposure from PFOS-precursors). Depending on the sample and the particular MS/MS transition chosen for ∑PFOS analysis (i.e., 499→80 or 499→99), ∑PFOS concentrations may be over- or underestimated compared to the isomer specific analysis. Differences in the extent of in-source fragmentation and MS/MS dissociation contributed to the systematic analytical bias. It was also shown that ∑PFOS data are prone to interlaboratory variation due to various choices of PFOS standards and instrumental conditions used. In the future, for either ∑PFOS or isomer specific PFOS analyses, we suggest that accuracy can be maximized and interlaboratory discrepancies minimized by using a common chemically pure technical PFOS standard characterized by 19F NMR.

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