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Analytical performance of a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer compared to a high resolution mass spectrometer for the analysis of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in fish


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a class of flame retardants used globally in many consumer products and industrial applications. Traditionally, gas chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry (GC–HR-MS) is the method of choice for analysis of PBDEs in environmental samples because it offers high sensitivity and selectivity, resulting in less interferences. However, the specificity offered by gas chromatography-triple quadrupole tandem mass spectrometry (GC–QQQ-MS/MS), operated in selected reaction monitoring mode, provides a more affordable alternative to GC–HR-MS for the analysis of PBDEs in complex environmental samples. In this study, an analytical method was developed for the analysis of 41 PBDE congeners in fish using GC–QQQ-MS/MS. Results from the analysis of three fish species [lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), and round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)] using GC–QQQ-MS/MS were compared with those obtained by GC–HR-MS. These species were selected because they represent varying levels of lipid-rich matrix and contaminant loads. Instrumental limits of detection for the GC–QQQ-MS/MS ranged from 0.04 pg to 41 pg, whereas those for the GC–HR-MS ranged from 5 pg to 85 pg. The PBDE values obtained from these two methods were highly correlated, R2 values >0.7, for all three fish species, supporting the suitability of GC–QQQ-MS/MS for analysis of PBDEs in fish with varying fat content.