Low levels of thermal degradation products such as carbonyls (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, crotonaldehyde) have been reported in e-cigarette aerosols. The collection and analysis of e-cigarette aerosol carbonyls are often adapted from methods developed for tobacco cigarette smoke. These methodologies are often not sensitive enough to detect low carbonyl levels in e-cigarette aerosols. One objective of this work was to develop and validate a rapid, selective and sensitive ultra-performance liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry method optimized for analysis of carbonyls in e-cigarette aerosols. Aerosols were trapped in 20-puff collections, 4-s durations, 55-mL volumes, 30-s intervals, square wave puff profiles. Collection apparatus involved a linear smoking machine with Cambridge filter pad followed by a glass impinger containing acidified 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine. This method showed limits of quantitation and detection of 0.016 and 0.003 µg puff-1, respectively, and run time of 4 min. Six e-cigarettes were evaluated (five devices each). All contained measurable levels of carbonyls. Levels were mostly well below those in conventional cigarettes. However, for some e-cigarettes, formaldehyde levels were above those for tobacco cigarettes (highest at 14.1 µg puff-1). Temperatures related to carbonyl yields in e-cigarette aerosols were explored to better understand carbonyl formation: formation of formaldehyde is low at temperatures below 350°C.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press.