Benzo[b]fluoranthene as part of the EFSA PAH4

I’ve already had one reader of my last post, Is separation of benzo[b]fluoranthene and benzo[k]fluoranthene on 5% phenyl-type GC columns really that important for environmental analyses? ask why I had benzo[b]fluoranthene in red text on the chromatograms.  I had planned to include something about it being on the EFSA PAH4 list in that post, but I’m an old man, so I forgot.  Here goes, in more detail…

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in their Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Food – Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (Adopted on 9 June 2008), issued the following statement:

“The CONTAM Panel concluded that benzo[a]pyrene is not a suitable indicator for the occurrence of PAHs in food. Based on the currently available data relating to occurrence and toxicity, the CONTAM Panel concluded that PAH4 and PAH8 are the most suitable indicators of PAHs in food, with PAH8 not providing much added value compared to PAH4.”

The PAH4 are:

Benz[a]anthracene, Chrysene, Benzo[b]fluoranthene, Benzo[a]pyrene

The PAH8 are:

Benz[a]anthracene, Chrysene, Benzo[b]fluoranthene, Benzo[k]fluoranthene, Benzo[a]pyrene, Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene, Dibenz[a,h]anthracene, Benzo[ghi]perylene

As you can see, Benzo[b]fluoranthene is a member of the PAH4, possibly the most significant group in estimating carcinogenic potential of food due to PAH content. Importantly, this doesn’t mean that benzo[j]fluoranthene and benzo[k]fluoranthenes are NOT present in food; they are, anytime benzo[b]fluoranthene is present.

The point I was going to make is, that in a pinch, an Rxi-5ms might be a better choice for screening of the EFSA PAH4 in food, because it would only have the absolute coelution of triphenylene and chrysene (at m/z 228). But a better choice is an Rxi-PAH GC column that will separate:

Triphenylene and Chrysene (m/z 228)

Benzo[b]fluoranthene, Benzo[k]fluoranthene, Benzo[j]fluoranthene, and Benzo[a]fluoranthene (m/z 252)

Benzo[e]pyrene and Benzo[a]pyrene (m/z 252)

Dibenz[a,j]anthracene, Dibenz[a,c]anthracene, and Dibenz[a,h]anthracene (m/z 278)

Is the Rxi-PAH only suitable for food PAH analyses? Absolutely not.  It will work very well for environmental PAH analysis where more comprehensive profiling is desired (e.g., environmental forensics, such as oil spill and other fingerprinting work), including as a primary column in GCxGC-TOFMS.  But keep in mind since it was designed with a thin film to more easily elute involatile PAHs like coronene and dibenzopyrenes, you need to inject less material on it or trim the front of the column more frequently for maintenance purposes.

Now where did I put those car keys?

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