A gas chromatography with ion trap mass spectrometry method has been developed and validated for the analysis of 27 polar organic compounds in atmospheric aerosols. The target analytes were low-molecular-weight carboxylic acids and methoxyphenols, as relevant markers of source emissions and photochemical processes of organic aerosols. The oper-ative parameters were optimized in order to achieve the best sensitivity and selectivity for the analysis. In comparison with the previous gas chromatography with mass spectrom-etry procedure based on single ion monitoring detection, the tandem mass spectrometry technique increased the analytical sensitivity by reducing detection limits for standard so-lutions from 1–2.6 to 0.1–0.4 ng/L ranges (concentrations in the injected solution). In addition, it enhanced selectivity by reducing matrix interferences and chemical noise in the chromatogram. The applicability of the developed method in air quality monitoring campaigns was effectively checked by analyzing environmental samples collected in the Po Valley (Northern Italy) in different seasons. The obtained results indicate that the ion trap mass spectrometer may be an ideal alternative to high-resolution mass spectrometers for the user-friendly and cost-effective determination of a wide range of molecular tracers in airborne particulate matter.
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