Making Every Single Puff Count—Simple and Sensitive E-Cigarette Aerosol Sampling for GCxIMS and GC-MS Analysis
The analysis of the aerosol from tobaccoless electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is an important part of understanding their impact on human health, yet sampling aerosol from e-cigarettes is still considered a challenge. It lacks a standard method for research and quality control and there are a variety of methods. However, few are simple and inexpensive, and none have been suggested for the use with gas chromatography coupled ion mobility spectrometry (GCxIMS). This work presents and evaluates such a setup made from standard lab equipment to quickly collect a quantitative sample from the aerosol of a single puff (5 s totaling 125 mL). The aerosol condensates directly in the cooled headspace (HS) vial, which is analyzed in the HS-GCxIMS or mass spectrometer (HS-GC-MS). The combined use of GC-MS and GCxIMS allows the simple and sensitive identification of unknown substances in complex mixtures and the identification of degradation products in the aerosols. A calibration of 26 flavor compounds (0.2–20 µg/g) was created using single puffs of a spiked, flavorless commercial refill solution and 2-alkanones as internal standards. This sensitive but easily reproducible setup enables a wide range of further investigations, even for labs that were previously unable to afford it.