Volume 26, Issue 12 p. 1497-1506
Research Article

Simultaneous quantification of microcystins and nodularin in aerosol samples using high-performance liquid chromatography/negative electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry

Andrea Gambaro

Andrea Gambaro

Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics (DAIS), University of Venice, Ca' Foscari, Calle Larga Santa Marta 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy

Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes CNR, Dorsoduro 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy

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Elena Barbaro

Corresponding Author

Elena Barbaro

Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics (DAIS), University of Venice, Ca' Foscari, Calle Larga Santa Marta 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy

E. Barbaro, Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics (DAIS), University of Venice, Ca' Foscari, Calle Larga Santa Marta 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy.

E-mail: [email protected]

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Roberta Zangrando

Roberta Zangrando

Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes CNR, Dorsoduro 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy

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Carlo Barbante

Carlo Barbante

Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics (DAIS), University of Venice, Ca' Foscari, Calle Larga Santa Marta 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy

Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes CNR, Dorsoduro 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy

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First published: 06 May 2012
Citations: 28

Abstract

RATIONALE

Cyanobacteria are a small group of photosynthetic planktonic bacteria, producing a large group of strong hepatotoxins called microcystins (MCs). Many studies have been conducted to evaluate the presence of MCs and nodularin (NOD) in water or in marine organisms, but little research has been done on the atmospheric environment. Waterborne toxins can be found in the aerosol phase due to bubble-bursting processes.

METHODS

The aim of this study was to obtain a sensitive method for the simultaneous determination of trace concentrations of individual cyanotoxins in aerosol samples, using liquid chromatography coupled with a triple quadrupole (HPLC/MS/MS). During method development improved electrospray ionization was found in negative ion mode. In contrast with other authors, we have developed a chromatographic separation using alkaline conditions, thus achieving good resolution, improved electrospray ionization and therefore better sensitivity.

RESULTS

A sensitive analytical method was set up to simultaneously measure trace concentrations of cyanotoxins in aerosol samples in a single chromatographic analysis using the internal standard method. The limit of detection for all the toxins was determined to be between 1 fg/μL (MC LA and LF) and 9 fg/μL (NOD).

CONCLUSIONS

The method was applied to ten aerosol samples from the Venice Lagoon. In these samples, trace concentrations of MC-LA ranging between 90 fg m−3 and 706 fg m−3, MC-LF between n.d. and 369 fg m−3 and MC-LW between n.d. and 262 fg m−3. This is the first study to quantify the cyanotoxins in Venetian aerosol samples using the HPLC/(−)ESI-MS/MS. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.