Development of a quantitative method for the analysis of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in mainstream cigarette smoke using isotope dilution liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry

Anal Chem. 2005 Feb 15;77(4):1001-6. doi: 10.1021/ac048887v.


An improved method has been developed for the determination of the four major tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) in mainstream cigarette smoke. The new method offers decreased sample preparation and analysis time as compared to traditional methodologies. This method uses isotope dilution liquid chromatography coupled to a tandem mass spectrometer with electrospray ionization and is significantly more sensitive than traditional methods. It also shows no evidence of artifactual formation of TSNA. Sample concentrations were determined for four TSNA in mainstream smoke using two isotopically labeled TSNA analogues as internal standards. Mainstream smoke was collected on an industry standard 44-mm Cambridge filter pad, extracted with an aqueous buffer solution, and analyzed without further sample cleanup. This method has been validated through intra- and interlaboratory studies and has shown excellent recoveries, sensitivity, and repeatability. The limits of detection of each TSNA varied from 0.01 to 0.1 ng/mL, and the linear calibration range of the instrument in sample matrix spanned 0.5-200 ng/ mL, which allowed for the determination of the TSNA levels in cigarettes with a wide range of deliveries. Data are also reported from two commercially available industry reference cigarettes and show excellent agreement and reproducibility over a six-month time period (n > 50).

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Nitrosamines / analysis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Tobacco / chemistry*


  • Nitrosamines
  • Smoke