Trace determination of 1-aminopropanone, a potential marker for wastewater contamination by liquid chromatography and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization-mass spectrometry

Water Res. 2006 Feb;40(3):588-94. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2005.11.036. Epub 2006 Jan 26.


1-Aminopropanone (APR) is a volatile aminoketone of human origin that has been identified in raw sewage and surface waters. However, the traditional methodology for the determination of APR is extremely complicated and requires a skilled chemist to achieve consistent results. This investigation presents a novel and simple method for the analysis of APR by direct derivatization in aqueous media. APR is synthesized as its hydrochloride and derivatized using mercaptoethanol and o-phthalaldehyde. The product of reaction is separated on a 15 cm x 4.6 mm Luna C-18 column (1 mL/min, 45:55 acetonitrile: Water) and detected using a single quadrupole mass spectrometer detector operated in atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) mode. Method detection limits as low as 100 nM were routinely obtained with a precision of 1.7%. Recoveries of APR were always found to be greater then 88% in surface and wastewater samples fortified at three different levels. However, despite the robustness of the method and the fact that APR was consistently detected in urine it was not present in a variety surface or wastewaters analyzed during the course of the study. These results pose a critical question on the use of APR as a tracer for human derived wastewaters.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Acetone / analysis
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Propanolamines / analysis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sewage / chemistry
  • Urinalysis
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / standards*


  • Propanolamines
  • Sewage
  • Acetone
  • aminoacetone