A Rapid Screening Method for the Detection of Additives in Electronics and Plastic Consumer Products Using AP-MALDI-qTOF-MS

Maurice de Jonker, Pim E.G. Leonards, Marja H. Lamoree, Sicco H. Brandsma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A novel method was developed and optimized for the fast-screening analysis of additives in electronics and plastic consumer products using atmospheric pressure matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (AP-MALDI) coupled with a high-resolution quadrupole time-of-flight (qTOF) mass spectrometer (MS). To simplify sample preparation and increase sample throughput, an innovative 48 well graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) doped AP-MALDI target plate was developed. The GNP incorporated in the target plate fulfilled the role of the MALDI matrix and, therefore, sample extracts could be directly transferred to the AP-MALDI 48 well target plate and analyzed without a subsequent matrix addition. The homogeneously dispersed and immobilized GNP target plates also provided increased signal intensity and reproducibility. Furthermore, analytical standards of various plastic additives and plastic products with known concentrations of additives were studied to assess the AP-MALDI ionization mechanisms and method capability. The analysis time was 15 s per measurement using an automated sequence. The GNP-doped target plates exhibited high desorption/ionization of low molecular weight molecules (<1000 Da) and can be used in both positive and negative ionization modes. The AP-MALDI-qTOF-MS method was applied to screen for additives in various electronics and plastic consumer products. Suspect screening was performed using a database containing 1366 compounds. A total of 56 additives including antioxidants, flame retardants, plasticizers, UV-stabilizers, and UV-filters were identified (confidence level 4). Identification of certain plastic additives in plastic children’s toys may indicate that they are recycled from waste electronic and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) (VENI2017-grant 722.017.009).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • plastic additives
  • plastic consumer products
  • recycling
  • suspect screening


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