Detection of trace levels of lead in aqueous liquids using extractive electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry

Chunxiao Liu, Xinglei Zhang, Saijin Xiao, Bin Jia, Shasha Cui, Jianbo Shi, Ning Xu, Xi Xie, Haiwei Gu, Huanwen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A sensitive approach, based on semi-quantitative measurement of the characteristic fragments in multi-stage extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (EESI-MSn), was developed for fast detection of trace levels of lead in aqueous liquids including mineral water, lake water, tap water, energy drinks, soft drinks, beer, orange juice, and tea. A disodium ethylene-diamine-tetraacetic acid (EDTA) aqueous solution was electrosprayed to produce negatively charged primary ions which then intersected the neutral sample plume to generate anions of EDTA-Pb(II) complexes. The charged EDTA-Pb(II) complexes were characterized with multistage collision induced dissociation (CID) experiments. The limit of detection (LOD) using EESI-MS 3 was estimated to be at the level of 10-13 g/mL for directly detecting lead in many of these samples. The linear dynamic range was higher than 2 orders of magnitude. A single sample analysis could be completed within 2 min with reasonable semi-quantitative performance, e.g., relative standard deviations (RSDs) for deionized water were 4.6-7.6% during 5 experimental runs (each of them had 10 repeated measurements). Coca-cola and Huiyuan orange juice, representative beverage samples with complex matrices, generated recovery rates of 91.5% and 129%, respectively. Our experimental data demonstrated that EESI-MS is a useful tool for the fast detection of lead in various solutions, and EESI-MS showed promises for fast screening of lead-contaminated aqueous liquid samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-85
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Aug 30 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambient mass spectrometry
  • Beverage
  • Extractive electrospray ionization
  • Lead
  • Tandem mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection of trace levels of lead in aqueous liquids using extractive electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this