USEPA Approves APGC Tandem Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry as Alternative Test Procedure for Dioxin Analysis

By November 19, 2020

A Breakthrough in Dioxin Analysis for Environmental Laboratories

In September, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recognized the use of atmospheric pressure gas chromatography (APGC) with tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry (MS) as an acceptable alternative to traditional high-resolution magnetic sector mass spectrometry for USEPA Method 1613.

The recognition frees laboratories to adopt the Waters Xevo TQ-XS APGC-MS/MS platform for the identification and quantification of polychloro-dioxin/furans in environmental matrices. The instrument has proven to be as or more selective and sensitive as GC- magnetic sector mass spectrometry, until now the accepted standard. Overall, APGC-MS/MS matches the performance criteria of Method 1613 to the satisfaction of the EPA.

Detecting trace levels of dioxins is important for protecting human health by limiting exposure to them in food, industrial emissions, and contaminated soil and water.

Waters Atmospheric Pressure Gas Chromatography system with the Xevo TQ-XS (APGC-MS/MS) platform

The Waters Atmospheric Pressure Gas Chromatography system with the Xevo TQ-XS (APGC-MS/MS) platform allows for successful identification and quantitation of dioxin/furans by producing and monitoring for specific product ions generated by fragmenting the precursor/parent ions of interest.

How Did We Get Here? A Comprehensive Comparison Study.

SGS AXYS Analytical Services (Sidney, British Columbia) led the two-year effort that resulted in the USEPA’s approval of the alternative test procedure – the SGS AXYS Method 16130.  In collaboration with Waters Corporation and others, SGS AXYS performed the studies that compared the performance of traditional magnetic sector mass spectrometry to tandem mass spectrometry before submitting the necessary data for the ATP request.

What the USEPA’s Alternative Test Procedure (ATP) Approval Means for Laboratories?

The APGC-MS/MS technology is already in use by Canadian and European researchers, commercial labs and government agencies for dioxin/furan analysis, as well as for other POPs analyses. For labs in the United States, the EPA’s interim approval (pending the standard public comment/response period) means the APGC-MS/MS methodology meets all the quality control criteria of magnetic sector-based methods, has the potential to lower costs for laboratories and their customers, and potentially expands the number of labs that provide testing.

Approval and recognition by the USEPA also opens the door to updating many dioxin/furan and POPs testing protocols to a modern platform like Waters APGC-MS/MS, which will lower overall costs, increase sensitivity and selectivity, and place less demands on user training.      

Tandem Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry Gives Dioxin Analysis a Fresh, New Look

Until now, gas chromatography coupled with high-resolution magnetic sector mass spectrometry (GC-HRMS) has been the standard tool for dioxin analysis. These aging instruments take up a large amount of space, are expensive and are only operated by highly-skilled experts limiting their widespread use.

On the other hand, tandem quadrupole MS is in high demand for a variety of quantitative applications due to their simpler operation, lower cost and much smaller footprint.

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