Application of High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry and a Theoretical Model to the Quantification of Multifunctional Carbonyls and Organic Acids in e-Cigarette Aerosol

Yichen Li, Amanda E. Burns, Guy J.P. Burke, Morgan E. Poindexter, Amy K. Madl, Kent E. Pinkerton, Tran B. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Electronic (e-) cigarette aerosol (particle and gas) is a complex mixture of chemicals, of which the profile is highly dependent on device operating parameters and e-liquid flavor formulation. The thermal degradation of the e-liquid solvents propylene glycol and glycerol often generates multifunctional carbonyls that are challenging to quantify because of unavailability of standards. We developed a theoretical method to calculate the relative electrospray ionization sensitivities of hydrazones of organic acids and carbonyls with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine based on their gas-phase basicities (ΔGdeprotonation). This method enabled quantification by high-performance liquid chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry HPLC-HRMS in the absence of chemical standards. Accurate mass and tandem multistage MS (MSn) were used for structure identification of vaping products. We quantified five simple carbonyls, six hydroxycarbonyls, four dicarbonyls, three acids, and one phenolic carbonyl in the e-cigarette aerosol with Classic Tobacco flavor. Our results suggest that hydroxycarbonyls, such as hydroxyacetone, lactaldehyde, and dihydroxyacetone can be significant components in e-cigarette aerosols but have received less attention in the literature and have poorly understood health effects. The data support the radical-mediated e-liquid thermal degradation scheme that has been previously proposed and emphasize the need for more research on the chemistry and toxicology of the complex product formation in e-cigarette aerosols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5640-5650
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume54
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 5 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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