Optimized GC/MS Analysis of PAHs with Hydrogen Carrier Using a Novel EI Source

by | Jun 29, 2023

Discover all you need to know GC/MS in selected ion monitoring (SIM) mode using hydrogen as the GC carrier gas.

Separation Science, in collaboration with Agilent, offers a video application, complementary application note and related assets focused on GC/MS in selected ion monitoring (SIM) mode using hydrogen as the GC carrier gas.

PAHs are a group of chemical compounds that are composed of at least two or more fused conjugated benzene rings with a pair of carbon atoms shared between rings in their molecules. Because PAHs originate from multiple sources, they are widely distributed as contaminants throughout the world. Given their ubiquitous nature, they are monitored as trace contaminants in many different food products ranging from seafood to edible oils to smoked meats. They are also monitored in the environment in air, water, and soil. PAHs have been analyzed by multiple techniques including HPLC/UV, GC/FID, GC/MS, and GC/MS/MS.

This presentation outlines how the Agilent 8890 GC and the Agilent 5977C GC/MSD were used with hydrogen carrier gas and a new source optimized for hydrogen operation. The Agilent HydroInert source, when used with the method described in this application note, provides excellent peak shape, sensitivity, and linearity across a calibration range of 0.25 to 1,000 pg for the analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). By proper selection of instrument configuration and operating conditions, the system with hydrogen carrier gas can generate results comparable to or better than those with helium. System precision and robustness are demonstrated with replicate injections of an extract from a high organic content soil.

This video application focuses on GC/MS in selected ion monitoring (SIM) mode using hydrogen as the GC carrier gas. While helium is generally considered the best carrier gas for GC/MS analysis, its reoccurring shortages have increased demand for applications using hydrogen as the carrier gas. When adopting hydrogen for GC/MS analysis, there are several things to consider.

From this presentation and associated application note, you will learn:

  • how to set up an analysis for PAHs using hydrogen carrier gas, the Agilent HydroInert source, and the Agilent 8890/5977C GC/MS system
  • how the new hydrogen method provides improved performance relative to helium methods with excellent peak shape, low detection limits, and better resolution in less time
  • how the new PAH method maintained excellent ISTD response stability across 4 orders of calibration
  • how the new PAH method maintained excellent linearity over <1 – 1,000 µg/L with an average MDL of 0.1 µg/L
  • how the new PAH method maintained stable performance over 100 injections of a challenging soil extract.


Dr. Anastasia Andrianova is a GC/MS Applications Scientist in the Mass Spectrometry Division of Agilent Technologies, located in Wilmington, Delaware. She is currently working in GC/MS applications in multiple areas including environmental and food safety.

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