A method is developed for determination of levoglucosan at trace concentration levels in complex matrices of snow and ice samples. This method uses an injection mixture comprising acetonitrile and melt sample at a ratio of 50/50 (v/v). Samples are analyzed using ultra-performance liquid chromatography system combined with triple tandem quadrupole mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS).

Levoglucosan is analyzed on BEH Amide column (2.1 mm×100 mm, 1.7 um), and a Z-spray electrospray ionization source is used for levoglucosan ionization. The polyether sulfone filter is selected for filtrating insoluble particles due to less impact on levoglucosan. The matrix effect is evaluated by using a standard addition method. During the method validation, limit of detection (LOD), linearity, recovery, repeatability and reproducibility were evaluated using standard addition method. The LOD of this method is 0.11 ng mL−1. Recoveries vary from 91.2% at 0.82 ng mL−1 to 99.3% at 4.14 ng mL−1. Repeatability ranges from 17.9% at a concentration of 0.82 ng mL−1 to 2.8% at 4.14 ng mL−1.

Reproducibility ranges from 15.1% at a concentration of 0.82 ng mL−1 to 1.9% at 4.14 ng mL−1. This method can be implemented using less than 0.50 mL sample volume in low and middle latitude regions like the Tibetan Plateau.

This article originally appeared in Talanta, 148, 2016, Pages 534–538.