Initial Work for Automation of a BSTFA Derivatisation for Phenolic Compounds in Water

Martin Perkins

22nd May 2019


The presence of phenolic and chlorinated phenolic compounds in water are a known cause of taints and off-flavours and can be detected at low levels by the consumer. Sensitive methods of analysis are therefore required. This application note describes work done in collaboration with Paul Leather of Environment Agency on the method development of an on-line automated solution for phenolic and chlorinated phenolic compounds with derivatisation by N,O-Bis(trimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA). This method is a fully automated solution with liquid-liquid extraction and derivatisation immediately prior to instrumental analysis. The use of BSTFA as a derivatising agent for phenols analysed with an EI source yields mass spectra with characteristic fragmentation patterns. This initial investigation demonstrates the potential of this approach to replace time consuming manual procedures and offers an alternative to using Negative Chemical Ion (NCI) source, avoiding the need for dedicated instrumentation and saving money on reagent gases.
Sensitivity at a level of 50 ng/L was demonstrated for all 26 evaluated phenols and potentially a larger injection volume, optimization of the LLE or instrument settings could be utilised to achieve even lower limits of detection.

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