Determination of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in replacement liquids of electronic cigarettes by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

J Chromatogr A. 2013 May 24:1291:48-55. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2013.03.035. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric method was described to detect tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in replacement liquids of electronic cigarettes. Solid-phase extraction (SPE) and liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) were compared to each other to select the optimum clean-up method. Under the established condition, the limits of quantification of N'-nitrosonornicotine (NNN), 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), N'-nitrosoanabasine (NAB), and N'-nitrosoanatabine (NAT) were 0.06, 0.07, 0.06, and 0.04μg/L respectively, by using 0.5mL of replacement liquids, respectively, and the relative standard deviation was less than 10% at concentrations of 5.0 and 25.0μg/L. The concentrations of TSNAs were measured in concentration ranges of 0.34-60.08μg/L (64.8% detection frequency) for NNN, 0.22-9.84μg/L (88.6% detection frequency) for NNK, 0.11-11.11μg/L (54.3% detection frequency) for NNB, and 0.09-62.19μg/L (75.2% detection frequency) for NAT in 105 replacement liquid brands from 11 electronic cigarette companies purchased in the Korean market.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Electrical Equipment and Supplies
  • Linear Models
  • Nicotiana / chemistry*
  • Nitrosamines / analysis*
  • Propylene Glycol / chemistry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solid Phase Extraction
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Nitrosamines
  • Propylene Glycol