An online method for the analysis of volatile organic compounds in electronic cigarette aerosol based on proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry

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Breiev, Kostiantyn ; Burseg, Kerstin M. M. ; O'Connell, Grant ; Hartungen, Eugen ; Biel, Stefan S. ; Cahours, Xavier ; Colard, Stéphane ; Märk, Tilmann D. ; Sulzer, Philipp (2016)
  • Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.
  • Journal: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, volume 30, issue 6, pages 691-697 (issn: 0951-4198, eissn: 1097-0231)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4755144, doi: 10.1002/rcm.7487
  • Subject: Research Article | Research Articles

Rationale Due to the recent rapid increase in electronic cigarette (e‐cigarette) use worldwide, there is a strong scientific but also practical interest in analyzing e‐cigarette aerosols. Most studies to date have used standardized but time‐consuming offline technologies. Here a proof‐of‐concept for a fast online quantification setup based on proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR‐MS) is presented. Methods The combination of a novel sampling interface with a time‐of‐flight PTR‐MS instrument specially designed for three scenarios is introduced: (i) mainstream aerosol analysis (aerosol that the user inhales prior to exhalation), and analysis of exhaled breath following (ii) mouth‐hold (no inhalation) and (iii) inhalation of e‐cigarette aerosols. A double‐stage dilution setup allows the various concentration ranges in these scenarios to be accessed. Results First, the instrument is calibrated for the three principal constituents of the e‐cigarettes' liquids, namely propylene glycol, vegetable glycerol and nicotine. With the double‐stage dilution the instrument's dynamic range was easily adapted to cover the concentration ranges obtained in the three scenarios: 20–1100 ppmv for the mainstream aerosol characterisation; 4–300 ppmv for the mouth‐hold; and 2 ppbv to 20 ppmv for the inhalation experiment. Conclusions It is demonstrated that the novel setup enables fast, high time resolution e‐cigarette studies with online quantification. This enables the analysis and understanding of any puff‐by‐puff variations in e‐cigarette aerosols. Large‐scale studies involving a high number of volunteers will benefit from considerably higher sample throughput and shorter data processing times. © 2016 The Authors. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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