Rapid Characterization of Emerging Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Using Ion Mobility Spectrometry-Mass Spectrometry.
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Aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) are mixtures formulated with numerous hydrocarbon- and fluoro-containing surfactants. AFFF use leads to environmental releases of unknown per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). AFFF composition is seldom disclosed, and their use elicits concerns from both regulatory agencies and the public because PFAS are persistent in the environment and potentially associated with adverse health effects. In this study, we demonstrate the use of coupled liquid chromatography, ion mobility spectrometry, and mass spectrometry (LC-IMS-MS) to rapidly characterize both known and unknown PFAS in AFFF. Ten AFFF formulations from seven brands were analyzed using LC-IMS-MS in both negative and positive ion modes. Untargeted analysis of the formulations was followed by feature identification of PFAS-like features utilizing database matching, mass defect and homologous series evaluation, and MS/MS fragmentation experiments. Across the tested AFFF formulations, we identified 33 homologous series; only ten of these homologous series have been previously reported. Among tested AFFF, the FireStopper (n = 85) contained the greatest number of PFAS-like features and Phos-Check contained zero. This work demonstrates that LC-IMS-MS-enabled untargeted analysis of complex formulations, followed by feature identification using data-processing algorithms, can be used for rapid exposure characterization of known and putative PFAS during fire suppression-related contamination events.