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 Chemistry Department, University of Guanajuato
  • Israel Enciso Donis Chemistry Department, University of Guanajuato
  • Katarzyna Wrobel Chemistry Department, University of Guanajuato
  • Kazimierz Wrobel Chemistry Department, University of Guanajuato



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


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.


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Author Biographies

Bianey Garcia Lara, Chemistry Department, University of Guanajuato

PhD student

Israel Enciso Donis, Chemistry Department, University of Guanajuato

Chemistry Department, professional academic technician

Katarzyna Wrobel, Chemistry Department, University of Guanajuato

professor of analytical chemistry (profesor titular C), Chemistry Department

Kazimierz Wrobel, Chemistry Department, University of Guanajuato

professor of analytical chemistry (profesor titular C), Chemistry Department


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