The 209 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners exhibit a wide range in toxicity to fish, birds, and mammals. This paper discusses the use of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry negative chemical ionization (GC/MS-NCI) to quantify congeners of highly suspected toxicity such as IUPAC #77 (3,3',4,4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl) and #126 (3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl). GC/MS analysis time needed to produce the necessary resolution was reduced to 1 h per sample or standard, allowing an autosampler to inject 12 samples in 24 hours, plus 12 standards/QC samples. Identification and quantification of some 60+ congeners and several selected pesticides and estimation of total PCBs are also possible within the 1 h analysis. For congeners of high chlorination (penta through octa), the method exhibited excellent sensitivity, such that we could not locate a fish which exhibited PCB levels below our calibrated quantitation range. NCI was not as sensitive for mono through tri and for some tetrachlorinated PCB congeners, an exception being PCB #77, for which sensitivity was of the same order as for the more highly chlorinated biphenyls. Long term stability was excellent. Over a 6-mo period, results of replicate analyses for PCB congeners and pesticides in a composited sample of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) from Lake Michigan had a relative standard deviation of 12% of the mean. Over the same time period, mean recoveries for samples spiked at concentrations similar to those in Lake Michigan lake trout were 90-102%. Response was linear over a wide range of concentrations for each of the analyzed compounds. This method is now being used for routine analysis of PCB congeners and selected pesticides in our laboratory.
Additional Publication Details
A mass spectroscopic method for analysis of AHH-inducing and other polychlorinated biphenyl congeners and selected pesticides in fish
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology