Identifying Hydrocarbon and Fluorocarbon Surfactants in Specialty Chemical Formulations of Environmental Interest by Fast Atom Bombardment/Mass Spectrometry


  • Jennifer A. Field
  • Melissa Schultz
  • Douglas Barofsky



Aircraft deicers and anti-icers, Aqueous-film-forming-foams (afff), Fast atom bombardment/mass spectrometry, Surfactants


Hydrocarbon- and fluorocarbon-based surfactants are used in specialty or 'niche' chemical formulations that are designed for applications such as aircraft deicing and anti-icing, 'spreaders' that increase the effectiveness of pesticide formulations, and for fighting hydrocarbon-fuel fires. The identity of the surfactants in specialty formulations is usually proprietary information. However, this information is needed to design studies that monitor the occurrence and fate of all the components of specialty chemical formulations that enter the environment and pose a risk toward aquatic organisms. Fast atom bombardment/mass spectrometry (FAB/MS), while not a new technique, remains the fastest technique for identifying surfactants in complex mixtures because no sample preparation is required. FAB/MS was applied to samples of an aircraft deicer and anti-icer and aqueous-film-forming-foams (AFFF) for the purpose of identifying the major classes of hydrocarbon and fluorocarbon surfactants. High mass accuracy FAB/MS measurements were made to identify an unknown fluorosurfactant in an AFFF formulation. Rapid identification of surfactants that are released into the environment facilitates the subsequent selection of quantitative analytical methods that can be used to monitor the occurrence and fate of surfactants in the environment.




How to Cite

J. A. Field, M. Schultz, D. Barofsky, Chimia 2003, 57, 556, DOI: 10.2533/000942903777679028.



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