Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC x GC) is a powerful technique which can enable a great increase in GC peak capacities. However, since secondary-column separations are very rapid, detectors with a fast acquisition rate are mandatory. Such a requirement has certainly limited the use of the quadrupole mass spectrometer in the GC x GC field. The present research is focused on the evaluation of a novel rapid-scanning quadrupole mass spectrometry (qMS) detector, characterized by a 20 000 amu/s scan speed and a 50 Hz scan frequency, using a 290 amu mass range (40-330 m/z). The performance of the MS system was assessed by analyzing mixtures of 24 allergens, as well as a perfume sample, through GC x GC/qMS. The MS parameters evaluated at different acquisition rates (50, 33, and 25 Hz), as well as in the (simultaneous) scan/selected ion monitoring (SIM) mode, were the number of data points per peak, mass spectrum quality, peak skewing, and sensitivity. Two GC x GC/qMS methods, using the 50 Hz acquisition rate and the scan/SIM mode, were validated. Both methods provided similar results in terms of repeatability, accuracy, and linearity, while a great increase in sensitivity was observed (ca. a factor of 10) under scan/SIM conditions. The validated method proved to be suitable for the analysis of perfume allergens, according to the requirements of Directive 2003/15/EC.
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