RR725 - MALDI/TOF/MS analysis of isocyanates and other hazardous workplace chemicals

Mass spectrometry has long been used to analyse samples taken in the workplace, and can be combined with other techniques to increase sensitivity, selectivity and accuracy. The work summarised in this report examines the application of the recently developed Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization/ time-of-flight/ mass spectrometry (MALDI/TOF/MS) technique to the analysis of isocyanates and biocides. Isocyanates were measured on filters (to represent air monitoring) and as isocyanate/protein conjugates (representing biological monitoring). Selected biocides bound to soil samples were analysed by MALDI/TOF/MS as examples of chemicals linked to more complex matrices: this use of MALDI/TOF/MS as an extraction process is a novel application of the technique.

MALDI/TOF/MS was found to be suitable for the analysis of isocyanate-derived protein conjugates and inflammation pathway metabolites in biological samples. Further work is required to develop quantitative biological methods based on this study. MALDI/TOF/MS was also found to complement existing analytical methods, such as conventional gas and liquid chromatography, for monitoring isocyanates in workplace air and biocides in a complex environmental matrix such as soil. The lessons learned during this study can be transferred to other occupational hygiene sampling applications.

This study was carried out in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-23