Simultaneous determination of 186 fungal and bacterial metabolites in indoor matrices by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry
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This paper describes the application of a previously published multi-mycotoxin method for food and feed matrices based on liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC/ESI-MS/MS) to the analysis of microbial metabolites in indoor matrices. The range of investigated analytes has been extended by 99 fungal and bacterial metabolites to cover now 186 compounds overall. The method is based on a single extraction step using an acidified acetonitrile/water mixture (which has been determined to be preferable to methanol and ethyl acetate) followed by analysis of the diluted crude extract. The analytical signal of one third of the investigated analytes was reduced by more than 50% due to matrix effects in a spiked extract of house dust, whereas the other investigated materials were less critical in that aspect. For determination of method performance characteristics, a spiked reference material for house dust was chosen as a model sample for an extremely complex matrix. With few exceptions, coefficients of variation of the whole procedure of <10% and limits of detection of <50 µg kg−1 were obtained. The apparent recoveries were below 50% for half of the investigated analytes due to incomplete extraction and/or detection-related matrix effects. The application of the method to 14 samples from damp buildings revealed the presence of 20 different analytes at concentrations of up to 130 mg kg−1. Most of these compounds have never been identified before in real-world samples, although they are known to be produced by indoor-relevant fungi. This underlines the great value of the described method for the on-site determination of microbial metabolites.