A novel method for the rapid screening of degradation products derived from nerve agents by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry is described. Five standard products were selected as model compounds, including isopropyl methylphosphonic acid (IMPA), pinacolyl methylphosphonic acid (PMPA), ethyl methylphosphonic acid (EMPA), isobutyl methylphosphonic acid (i-BuMPA), and cyclohexyl methylphosphonic acid (CHMPA), which are degradation products of Sarin (GB), Soman (GD), VX, Russian VX (RVX), and GF, respectively. For comparison, CHCA (α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid) and DCCA (7-(diethylamino)coumarin-3-carboxylic acid) were used as the MALDI-matrix when the third harmonic generation (355 nm) of a Nd:YAG laser and a hydrogen Raman laser (multifrequency laser) were used, respectively. The method permitted the five nerve agent degradation products to be screened rapidly and successfully, suggesting that it has the potential for use as a routine monitoring tool.
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