Nitrosamines are semi-volatile compounds that are an emerging class of drinking water contaminants. N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is the main nitrosamine of concern and is classified as a potent carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to its tumor-inducing properties through ingestion or inhalation. Nitrosamines are used in various industries to manufacture cosmetics, pesticides, or rubber products. In water, nitrosamines are formed as by-products during industrial processes such as chloramination of wastewater and drinking water. Due to their potency as carcinogens, nitrosamines are considered as priority pollutants, and various countries around the world have already introduced maximum acceptable concentrations of 9 ng/L and notification levels at 10 ng/L.
GC-MS is the analytical technique of choice for nitrosamine determination and, in particular the use of triple quadrupole GC-MS/MS instrumentation has recently become popular for this application due to its high selectivity and sensitivity provided through selective reaction monitoring (SRM). High selectivity and sensitivity are required to (i) reduce interferences from matrix and background chemical ions that can result in false positive detection and erroneous quantification of nitrosamines and (ii) detect ultra-trace levels of these toxic compounds.
In this work, the analytical performance of the TSQ 9000 triple quadrupole GC-MS/MS system using the Thermo Scientific Advanced Electron Ionization (AEI) source was tested for the ultra-trace analysis of nitrosamines in drinking water from 17 drinking water testing facilities across Europe.