Multicomponent analysis of replacement liquids of electronic cigarettes using chromatographic techniques

J Anal Toxicol. 2015 May;39(4):262-9. doi: 10.1093/jat/bkv002. Epub 2015 Feb 13.


The electronic cigarette (e-cig) is an invention of the past few years and its popularity is rapidly growing all over the world. A rapid multicomponent analytical protocol for the analysis of the replacement liquids (e-liquids) of e-cig was developed using gas (GC) and liquid chromatography (LC)-mass spectrometry (MS). GC-MS-based methods were developed for the determination of the main humectants and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). For the determination and quantification of nicotine (NIC) and nitrosamines, appropriate LC-MS-based methods were developed. The approbated methods were applied for the analysis of 263 e-liquid samples obtained from the Greek market. The instruments response was linear; the limits of quantification ranged from 0.003 μg/mL for three PAHs to 1.187 μg/mL for glycerol. The precision was <16% for all analytes, while the mean accuracy ranged from 99.1% for NIC to 106.6% for the flavor 2,5-dimethylpyrazine. The measured concentrations of NIC were correlated with the theoretical concentrations as reported by the manufacturers. An analog relation between the concentration of the glycerol and of propylene glycol was noticed. The frequency of detection of flavors ranged from 30.4% for the methyl cyclopentenolone to 5.3% for 3.4-dimethoxybenzaldehyde. Nitrosamines and PAHs were not detected in any sample. Because a similar analytical protocol was not available from the existing literature so far, our study offers the advantage of complete analytical methods for rapid and simultaneous multicomponent identification.

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / standards*
  • Ethylene Glycols / analysis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Glycerol / analysis
  • Limit of Detection
  • Monoterpenes / analysis
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Nitrosamines / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Propylene Glycol / analysis
  • Quality Control
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Ethylene Glycols
  • Monoterpenes
  • Nitrosamines
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • diethylene glycol
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Nicotine
  • linalool
  • Glycerol