Practical application guide for the discovery of novel PFAS in environmental samples using high resolution mass spectrometry

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Mark Strynar
  • James McCord
  • Seth Newton
  • John Washington
  • Krista Barzen-Hanson
  • Trier, Xenia
  • Yanna Liu
  • Ian Ken Dimzon
  • Boris Bugsel
  • Christian Zwiener
  • Gabriel Munoz

BACKGROUND: The intersection of the topics of high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) bring together two disparate and complex subjects. Recently non-targeted analysis (NTA) for the discovery of novel PFAS in environmental and biological media has been shown to be valuable in multiple applications. Classical targeted analysis for PFAS using LC-MS/MS, though growing in compound coverage, is still unable to inform a holistic understanding of the PFAS burden in most samples. NTA fills at least a portion of this data gap.

OBJECTIVES: Entrance into the study of novel PFAS discovery requires identification techniques such as HRMS (e.g., QTOF and Orbitrap) instrumentation. This requires practical knowledge of best approaches depending on the purpose of the analyses. The utility of HRMS applications for PFAS discovery is unquestioned and will likely play a significant role in many future environmental and human exposure studies.

METHODS/RESULTS: PFAS have some characteristics that make them standout from most other chemicals present in samples. Through a series of tell-tale PFAS characteristics (e.g., characteristic mass defect range, homologous series and characteristic fragmentation patterns), and case studies different approaches and remaining challenges are demonstrated.

IMPACT STATEMENT: The identification of novel PFAS via non-targeted analysis using high resolution mass spectrometry is an important and difficult endeavor. This synopsis document will hopefully make current and future efforts on this topic easier to perform for novice and experienced alike. The typical time devoted to NTA PFAS investigations (weeks to months or more) may benefit from these practical steps employed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)575-588
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023. This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply.

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - PFAS, Non targeted analysis, Emerging contaminants of concern

ID: 361386455