Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 407, Issue 23, pp 7047–7054 | Cite as

Detecting a wide range of environmental contaminants in human blood samples—combining QuEChERS with LC-MS and GC-MS methods

  • Merle M. PlassmannEmail author
  • Magdalena Schmidt
  • Werner Brack
  • Martin Krauss
Research Paper


Exposure to environmental pollution and consumer products may result in an uptake of chemicals into human tissues. Several studies have reported the presence of diverse environmental contaminants in human blood samples. However, previously developed multi-target methods for the analysis of human blood include a fairly limited amount of compounds stemming from one or two related compound groups. Thus, the sample preparation method QuEChERS (quick easy cheap effective rugged and safe) was tested for the extraction of 64 analytes covering a broad compound domain followed by detection using liquid and gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC- and GC-MS). Forty-seven analytes showed absolute recoveries above 70 % in the first QuEChERS step, being a simple liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) using acetonitrile and salt. The second QuEChERS step, being a dispersive solid phase extraction, did not result in an overall improvement of recoveries or removal of background signals. Using solely the LLE step, eight analytes could subsequently be detected in human blood samples from the German Environmental Specimen Bank. Using a LC-multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) method with a triple quadrupole instrument, better recoveries were achieved than with an older LC-high-resolution (HR) MS full scan orbitrap instrument, which required a higher concentration factor of the extracts. However, the application of HRMS full scan methods could be used for the detection of additional compounds retrospectively.


Multi-target screening Environmental pollutants Human blood QuEChERS LC-MS GC-MS 



We thank the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) for financial support (project number: 3710622202) and Kerstin Becker, Alexander Wuertz and Christa Schröter-Kermani for the excellent collaboration. A free academic licence for Marvin, the Calculator Plugins and JChem for Excel was kindly provided by ChemAxon (Budapest, Hungary).

Supplementary material

216_2015_8857_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (750 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 750 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Merle M. Plassmann
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Magdalena Schmidt
    • 1
  • Werner Brack
    • 1
  • Martin Krauss
    • 1
  1. 1.Department Effect-Directed AnalysisHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry (ACES)Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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