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J Chromatogr A. 2006 Jan 13;1102(1-2):214-23. Epub 2005 Nov 28.

Screening of nitrogen mustards and their degradation products in water and decontamination solution by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.

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  • 1DSO National Laboratories, 20 Science Park Drive, Singapore 118230, Singapore.


Analysing nitrogen mustards and their degradation products in decontamination emulsions posed a significant challenge due to the different phases present in such matrices. Extensive sample preparation may be required to isolate target analytes. Furthermore, numerous reaction products are formed in the decontamination emulsion. A fast and effective qualitative screening procedure was developed for these compounds, using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). This eliminated the need for additional sample handling and derivatisation that are required for gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric (GC-MS) analysis. A liquid chromatograph with mixed mode column and isocratic elution gave good chromatography. The feasibility of applying this technique for detecting these compounds in spiked water and decontamination emulsion was demonstrated. Detailed characterisation of the degradation products in these two matrices was carried out. The results demonstrated that N-methyldiethanolamine (MDEA), N-ethyldiethanolamine (EDEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) are not the major degradation products of their respective nitrogen mustards. Degradation profiles of nitrogen mustards in water were also established. In verification analysis, it is important not only to develop methods for the identification of the actual chemical agents; the methods must also encompass degradation products of the chemical agents as well so as to exclude false negatives. This study demonstrated the increasingly pivotal role that LC-MS play in verification analysis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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