High Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS) Techniques for Screening of PFAS in Environmental Samples

Instrumentation Focus: LCMS
Oral Presentation

Prepared by K. Organtini, M. Twohig, K. Rosnack, J. Lewis
Waters Corporation, 34 Maple St, Milford, MA, 01757, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 508-482-3242


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic compounds that are ubiquitous environmental pollutants. These compounds have been widely detected in environmental and biological samples around the globe. It is estimated that there have been 4000 – 6000 PFAS-like compounds manufactured since their introduction with very little toxicological and environmental fate information known. Currently, the most commonly employed analysis for PFAS utilizes a targeted approach utilizing tandem quadrupole mass spectrometers. A targeted approach provides sensitive detection for PFAS, but typically focus on a small portion of potential PFAS of interest. A non-targeted technique can provide a comprehensive characterization of PFAS contamination in a sample. Therefore, the use of analytical methods that can provide data on non-targeted analytes as well as targeted analytes is beneficial and can help to fully assess the environmental distribution of this class of compounds.

This presentation will demonstrate various workflows to perform screening of PFAS in water and soil extracts using a high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF-MS). Use of screening libraries to help identify known PFAS compounds will be demonstrated as well as tools for data interrogation to discover PFAS and PFAS-like compounds that may not be present in a user library, such as common fragment searching, neutral loss, and mass defect filtering. Using this screening workflow, emerging PFAS of interest (PFEESA and PFMBA) were detected in soil and wastewater samples previously characterized using a targeted MS/MS approach that did not contain these compounds in the targeted list.