Compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) of organic water contaminants can provide important information about their sources and fate in the environment. Analyte enrichment from water remains nonetheless a critical yet inevitable step before measurement. Commercially available solid-phase extraction (SPE) sorbents are inherently nonselective leading to co-extraction of concurrent dissolved organic matter (DOM) and in turn to analytical interferences, especially for low-occurring contaminants. Here, it is reported (i) increased extraction selectivity by synthesizing cyclodextrin polymers (α-, β-, γ-CDP) as SPE sorbents, (ii) assessed their applicability to carbon isotope analysis for a selection of pesticides, and (iii) compared them with commonly used commercial sorbents. Extraction with β-CDP significantly reduced backgrounds in gas chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-IRMS) and enhanced sensitivity by a factor of 7.5, which was further confirmed by lower carbon-normalized CDOM/Canalyte ratios in corresponding extracts as derived from dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis. Gibbs free energies of adsorption demonstrated weak competition between DOM and analyte on the three CDPs. No isotopic fractionation (Δδ13C within ± 0.3‰) was observed for the investigated pesticides after using β-CDP as an SPE sorbent covering a range of concentrations (5–500 μg L–1), flow velocities (5–40 cm min–1), and sorbent regeneration (up to six times). The present study highlights the benefit of selecting innovative extraction sorbents to avoid interferences in advance. This strategy in combination with existing cleanup approaches offers new prospects for CSIA at field concentrations of tens to hundreds of nanograms per liter.
David Glöckler, Christopher Wabnitz, Martin Elsner, and Rani Bakkour: Avoiding Interferences in Advance: Cyclodextrin Polymers to Enhance Selectivity in Extraction of Organic Micropollutants for Carbon Isotope Analysis. Anal. Chem. 2023,
Publication Date:May 11, 2023