Cloud water samples from Whiteface Mountain, NY were used to develop a combined sampling and gas chromatography-mass spectrometric (GCMS) protocol for evaluating the complex mixture of highly polar organic compounds (HPOC) present in this atmospheric medium. Specific HPOC of interest were mono- and di keto-acids which are thought to originate from photochemical reactions of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons from biogenic and manmade emissions and be a major fraction of atmospheric carbon. To measure HPOC mixtures and the individual keto-acids in cloud water, samples first must be derivatized for clean elution and measurement, and second, have low overall background of the target species as validated by GCMS analysis of field and laboratory blanks. Here, we discuss a dual derivatization method with PFBHA and BSTFA which targets only organic compounds that contain functional groups reacting with both reagents. The method also reduced potential contamination by minimizing the amount of sample processing from the field through the GCMS analysis steps. Once derivatized only gas chromatographic separation and selected ion monitoring (SIM) are needed to identify and quantify the polar organic compounds of interest. Concentrations of the detected total keto-acids in individual cloud water samples ranged from 27.8 to 329.3ngmL-1 (ppb). Method detection limits for the individual HPOC ranged from 0.17 to 4.99ngmL-1 and the quantification limits for the compounds ranged from 0.57 to 16.64ngmL-1. The keto-acids were compared to the total organic carbon (TOC) results for the cloud water samples with concentrations of 0.607-3.350mgL-1 (ppm). GCMS analysis of all samples and blanks indicated good control of the entire collection and analysis steps. Selected ion monitoring by GCMS of target keto-acids was essential for screening the complex organic carbon mixtures present at low ppb levels in cloud water. It was critical for ensuring high levels of quality assurance and quality control and for the correct identification and quantification of key marker compounds.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Cloud water
- Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry
- Highly polar organic compounds