The on-line coupling of micellar electrokinetic chromatography and mass spectrometry (MEKC-MS) is often hampered by incompatibility problems leading to reduced separation performance and unfavorable limits of detection (LODs). Here we propose a new selective and highly sensitive MEKC-MS/MS method employing a sheathless porous-tip interface in combination with a micellar phase comprised of semi-volatile surfactant molecules. Carbamate pesticides (CRBs) were selected as representative model compounds being neutral toxic pollutants potentially present at trace levels in environmental water samples. A background electrolyte of 75mM perfluorooctanoic acid adjusted to pH 9.0 with ammonium hydroxide allowed efficient separation of 15 CRBs and appeared fully compatible with electrospray ionization (ESI)-MS. Interfacing parameters, such as the distance between the capillary tip and mass-spectrometer inlet, ESI voltage, and dry gas temperature and flow were optimized in order to attain good spray stability and high analyte signal-to-noise ratios. For CRBs the LODs ranged from 0.2 to 3.9ngL-1 (13nL injected, i.e., 2% of capillary volume), representing an improvement for certain CRBs of more than 300-fold when compared with conventional sheath-liquid interfacing. Good linearity (R2 >0.99) and satisfactory reproducibility were obtained for all CRBs with interday RSD values for peak area and migration time of 4.0-11.3% and below 1.5%, respectively. Analysis of spiked mineral water showed that the new MEKC-MS/MS method allows selective and quantitative determination of CRB concentrations below the maximum residue limit of 100ngL-1 without the need for sample preconcentration.
- Electrospray ionization
- Mass spectrometry
- Micellar electrokinetic chromatography
- Sheathless interfacing
- Volatile surfactant