Evaluation of automated direct sample introduction with comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry for the screening analysis of dioxins in fish oil
An automated direct sample introduction technique coupled to comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometry (DSI-GC × GC/TOF-MS) was applied for the development of a relatively fast and easy analytical screening method for 17 polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and 4 non-ortho polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish oil. Comparison of instrumental performance between DSI-GC × GC/TOF-MS and the traditional gas chromatographic high resolution mass spectrometric (GC-HRMS) method showed good agreement of results for standard solutions analyzed in blind fashion. Relatively high tolerance of the DSI technique for lipids in the final extracts enabled a streamlined sample preparation procedure that only required gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and solid-phase extraction (SPE) cleanup with graphitized carbon black. The sample size for the method was 2 g of cod liver oil, which achieved limits of quantitation (LOQs) of 0.019–7.8 pg/g toxic equivalent quotients for the individual PCDD/Fs. Lower detection limits can be achieved by using larger sample size and scaling up the sample preparation procedure, but this adds to the labor, time, solvent consumption, and expense of the approach. However, the streamlined method yielded 0.94 pg/g and 2.3 pg/g LOQs for 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro dibenzofuran (TCDF) and 3,3′,4,4′,5-pentachloro biphenyl (CB126), which were sufficiently low for regulatory monitoring of 2 g samples. Therefore, instead of congener specific analysis, this streamlined analytical screening method for TCDF and CB126 has the potential to monitor fish oil contaminated with dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs at or above current food safety limits. Acceptable recoveries for nearly all analytes at three different spiking levels in fish oil samples were achieved with good repeatability.