Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Research article
12 Jan 2012
Research article |  | 12 Jan 2012

Quantification of levoglucosan and its isomers by High Performance Liquid Chromatography – Electrospray Ionization tandem Mass Spectrometry and its applications to atmospheric and soil samples

C. Piot, J.-L. Jaffrezo, J. Cozic, N. Pissot, I. El Haddad, N. Marchand, and J.-L. Besombes

Abstract. The determination of atmospheric concentrations of levoglucosan and its two isomers, unambiguous tracers of biomass burning emissions, became even more important with the development of wood as renewable energy for domestic heating. Many researches demonstrated the increase during recent years of atmospheric particulate matter load due to domestic biomass combustion in developed countries. Analysis of biomass burning tracers is traditionally performed with Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) technique after derivatization and requires an organic solvent extraction. A simpler and faster technique using Liquid Chromatography – Electrospray Ionisation – tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS) was optimized for the analysis of levoglucosan, mannosan and galactosan isomers after an aqueous extraction. This technique allows a good separation between the three compounds in a very reduced time (runtime ~5 min). LOD and LOQ of this method are 30 μg l−1 and 100 μg l−1 respectively, allowing the use of filters from low-volume sampler (as commonly used in routine campaigns). A comparison of simultaneous levoglucosan measurements by GC-MS and LC-ESI-MS/MS for about 50 samples coming from different types of sampling sites and seasons was realized and shows very good agreement between the two methods. Therefore LC-ESI-MS/MS method can be used as an alternative to GC-MS particularly for measurement campaigns in routine where analysis time is important and detection limit is reduced. This paper shows that this method is also applicable to other environmental sample types like soil.