Routine analysis by high precision gas chromatography mass selective detector isotope ratio mass spectrometry to 0.1 parts per mil

J.A. Hall, J.A.C. Barth, R. Kalin

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Stable isotope methods are potentially quite useful for validating natural or enhanced mineral degradation of contaminants, For this reason, a continuous flow gas chromatograph (GC), isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) has been coupled with a quadrupole mass selective detector (MSD) to allow simultaneous mass spectral and stable carbon isotope ratio data to be obtained from a single chromatographic analysis. This allows the target contaminant and any extra-cellular degradation intermediates to be both qualified and quantified. Previously acceptable limits of precision (0.3 parts per mil) are undesirable given the small fractionation observed during aerobic degradation. To further understand the fate of organic contaminants and to gain information about the metabolic degradative pathway employed by a microorganism, routine isotopic analyses on a range of analytes have been performed. Quantities of sample producing mass-44 ion beam signal (I-44) of 2 x 10(-10) fo 1 x 10(-8) A were analysed. When the IRMS was tuned for high sensitivity, ion source nonlinearities were overcome by peak height correction from an algorithm that was produced using known isotopic standards of varying concentrations. This led to sample accuracy of <0.01 parts per thousand and sample precision of 0.1 parts per thousand. Copyright (C) 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1231-1236
Number of pages6
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1999



  • gas chromatography
  • mass spectrometry

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