APGC-MS/MS Investigation of a Complex Mixture of Polyhalogenated Dioxins and Furans (PXDD/Fs) Generated in Fire Debris

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Kari Organtini, Adam Ladak, Douglas Stevens, Lauren Mullin, and Frank Dorman
Waters and The Pennsylvania State University
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Application Notes
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Application Notes
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First responders exposed to fire debris, either during an active fire or after the flames have been extinguished are exposed to a very complex mixture of compounds, including some potentially toxic compounds. Some of these compounds are combustion byproducts of flame retardants present in the materials burning in the fire.

Among some of the most used flame retardants are the brominated flame retardants (BFRs), specifically polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Although some PBDE formulations are being phased out of use, not all have been replaced and many consumer products in use still contain PBDEs. Studies have determined that when combusted, PBDEs create the dibenzo-p-dioxin and dibenzofuran backbones, substituted with halogens (Br and/or Cl) present in the combusted materials.

In this application note, we focus on the combination of APGC coupled to a Xevo TQ-S tandem quadrupole instrument to better characterize the extent of dioxin and furan generation (polybromo- and mixed halogenated) in simulation fire debris in order to gain a better understanding of the levels of these compounds that first responders are exposed to.

Learn how using atmospheric pressure gas chromatography (APGC) in combination with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry provides:

  • Highly sensitive analysis for trace level components in a complex sample matrix.
  • Increased ease-of-use and sensitivity over the more traditionally used magnetic sector instruments.
  • Improved selectivity of the PXDD/F isomers from similar persistent organic compounds in the matrix.
  • Better understanding the level of exposure of first responders, especially fire fighters, to potentially toxic dioxins and furans that are currently unregulated.



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