Matrix-induced signal suppression or enhancements are known phenomena in electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Very few studies report on method development for organic aerosols analyses with the evaluation of the matrix effects. The matrix effects lead to errors in the quantification of the analytes and affect the detection capability, precision, and accuracy of an analysis method. The present study reports on the matrix effects in the analysis of organic chemical compounds present in atmospheric aerosol particles collected on quartz filters. A total number of 19 analytes, including different classes of organic compounds, such as monoaromatic phenols and derivatives (e.g., catechol, 4-methylcatechol, 3-methoxycatechol, 4-nitrocatechol, 4-nitrophenol, 2,4-dinitrophenol, 2,6-dimethyl-4-nitrophenol), carboxylic acids (terebic acid, adipic acid, pimelic acid, phthalic acid, vanillic acid), and sulfonic acids (e.g., camphor-10-sulfonic acid), was investigated by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPLC/ESI-ToF-MS). The HPLC and ESI set-up parameters used in this study were previously optimized for the investigated compounds. Different volumes of a standard mixture were added to sample extracts, with final solutions concentrations in the 50–1500 μg L−1 range. For the investigated concentration range, the observed matrix effect was independent of the standard concentration level. For quartz filter extracts, the average matrix effect determined on a concentration-based method was 109.5 ± 6.1%. Both signal suppression and enhancement effects were observed for different compounds. For other analytes, the influence of the matrix effect is variable, suggesting that the use of an internal standard is not sufficient for the matrix effects correction. Competition between analyte ions and matrix components in the gas-phase ionization processes occurring in electrospray might explain signal suppression while generated coeluted isobaric compounds might induce signal enhancement.
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