Determination of Six Priority Phthalates and Di(Ethylhexyl) Adipate in Maize Tortilla by Gas Chromatography - Tandem Mass Spectrometry in Multiple Reaction Monitoring Mode

Bianey Garcia Lara, Israel Enciso Donis, Katarzyna Wrobel, Kazimierz Wrobel


The term “phthalates” refers to a group of esters of benzene-1,2-dicarboxylic acid, widely used as plasticizers therefore ubiquitous in food and in the environment. Several phthalates have been cataloged as endocrine disruptors and that is why there is a strong demand for their reliable determination, especially in food matrices.  In the present work, gas chromatography - tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) procedure is proposed for the determination of six priority phthalates (dimethyl phthalate DMP, diethyl phthalate DEP, di(n-butyl) phthalate DBP, benzyl butyl phthalate BBP, di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate DEHP, di(n-octyl) phthalate DnOP) and di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate DEHA, in maize tortillas and flour. Fresh tortilla sample was homogenized with acetonitrile/water (1:1) and after salting out (NaCl), hexane extract was obtained and dried by addition of Na2SO4 anhydride. Finally, solvent was evaporated and the residue was reconstituted in isooctane for the injection to GC-MS/MS system; a model SCION GC-TQMS from Bruker Daltonics was used for the analysis. Quantification was carried out by multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) with the following time segments and m/z values of the precursor/product ion transitions: 0-7.90 min, 163/133 DMP; 7.47-8.53min, 149/121 DEP; 8.53-9.93 min, 149/121 DBP; 9.93-12.39 min, 149/93 BBP; 11.40-12.44 min, 129/111 DEHA; 12.20-13.22 min, 149/121 DEHP; 13.13-14.20 min, 149/121 DnOP. The evaluated method detection limits for seven compounds were in the range 0.11-1.84 µg kg-1 (tortilla dry mass). The results obtained for fifteen tortilla samples purchased in Guanajuato state were as follows: 71.6-420 µg kg-1 DEHP > not detected (nd)-274 µg kg-1 DBP > nd-197 µg kg-1 DEHA > nd-73.2 µg kg-1 DEP > nd-10.6 µg kg-1 DnOP. It was observed that prolonged storage and elevated temperature favored the accumulation of phthalates in tortillas.


phthalates; food; tortilla; gas chromatography- mass spectrometry; multiple reaction monitoring

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Journal of the Mexican Chemical Society (J. Mex. Chem. Soc.) Vol 62, No 2 (2018). Quarterly publication (April-June). Edited and distributed by Sociedad Química de México, A.C. Barranca del Muerto 26, Col. Crédito Constructor, Del. Benito Juárez, C.P. 03940, Mexico City. Phone: +5255 56626837; +5255 56626823 Contact: Editor-in-Chief: Ignacio González-Martínez. Indexed Journal. Certificate of reserved rights for recurrent publications under digital distribution granted by the Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor (INDAUTOR): 04-2018-091118040000-203. Certificate of lawful title and content: Under procedure. ISSN-e granted by the Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor (INDAUTOR): 2594-0317. ISSN granted by the Instituto Nacional del Derecho de Autor (INDAUTOR): 1870-249X. Postal registration of printed matter deposited by editors or agents granted by SEPOMEX: IM09-0312 Copyright © Sociedad Química de México, A.C. Total or partial reproduction is prohibited without written permission of the right holder. The Figures/schemes quality and the general contents of this publication are full responsibility of the authors. Updated December 12th, 2018 by Adriana Vázquez (editorial assistant, e-mail:, J. Mex. Chem. Soc., Sociedad Química de México, A.C.