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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2014 May;406(13):3013-8. doi: 10.1007/s00216-014-7690-2. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

An evaluation of sucrose as a possible contaminant in e-liquids for electronic cigarettes by hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

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Department of Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Faculty, Gdańsk University of Technology, Narutowicza 11/12, 80-233, Gdańsk, Poland,


The influence of sucrose combustion products on smoking and nicotine addiction is still controversial because the presence of the sucrose may be treated as a source of aldehydes and organic acids. In e-liquids used as refills for electronic cigarettes, which are made primarily of poly(propylene glycol), glycerine and ethanol, sucrose may be present at trace levels, and its impact on mainstream smoke formation, and hence on human health and smoking/nicotine addiction is unknown. An analytical method was developed where high-performance liquid chromatography in hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography mode and tandem mass spectrometry were used for fast and simple determination of sucrose and other saccharides in e-liquids for electronic cigarettes. Minimal effort was required in the sample preparation step, and satisfactory results were obtained, and the sample matrix had an insignificant impact. The chromatographic separation was done using an Ascentis Express OH5 column (150 mm × 2.1 mm, 2.7 μm). The coefficients of variation for within-day precision for three concentrations were 2.4 %, 1.6 % and 2.3 %, and the between-day coefficients of variation for a single concentration were 2.1 %, 2.5 % and 1.7 % measured on the next 3 days. The detection limit was 0.73 μg/g, and the sucrose content in e-liquids ranged from 0.76 to 72.93 μg/g among 37 samples. Moreover, with the method presented it is possible to determine the presence of other saccharides such as fructose, glucose, maltose and lactose. However, only sucrose was found in all samples of e-liquids. The proposed method is rapid, simple and reliable in terms of high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry.

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