Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 16, pp 3769–3778 | Cite as

Multielement analysis of Zanthoxylum bungeanum Maxim. essential oil using ICP-MS/MS

  • Liang Fu
  • Hualin Xie
  • Shuyun Shi
Research Paper


The concentrations of trace elements (Cr, Ni, As, Cd, Hg, and Pb) in Zanthoxylum bungeanum Maxim. essential oil (ZBMEO) were determined by inductively coupled plasma tandem mass spectrometry. The ZBMEO sample was directly analyzed after simple dilution with n-hexane. Aiming for a relatively high vapor pressure of n-hexane and its resultant loading on plasma, we used a narrow injector torch and optimized plasma radio frequency power and carrier gas flow to ensure stable operation of the plasma. An optional gas flow of 20% O2 in Ar was added to the carrier gas to prevent the incomplete combustion of highly concentrated organic carbon in plasma and the deposition of carbon on the sampling and skimmer cone orifices. In tandem mass spectrometry mode, O2 was added to the collision/reaction cell to eliminate the interferences. The limits of detection for Cr, Ni, As, Cd, Hg, and Pb were 2.26, 1.64, 2.02, 1.35, 1.76, and 0.97 ng L-1, respectively. After determination of 23 ZBMEO samples from different regions in China, we found that the average concentration ranges of trace elements in the 23 ZBMEO samples were 0.72–6.02 ng g-1, 0.09–2.87 ng g-1, 0.21–5.84 ng g-1, 0.16–2.15 ng g-1, 0.13–0.92 ng g-1, and 0.17–0.73 ng g-1 for Cr, Ni, As, Cd, Hg, and Pb, respectively. The trace elements in ZBMEO differed significantly when different extraction technologies were used. The study revealed that the contents of the toxic elements As, Cd, Hg, and Pb were extremely low, and hence they are unlikely to pose a health risk following ZBMEO ingestion.

Graphical abstract

The working mechanism of sample analysis by ICP-MS/MS


Zanthoxylum bungeanum Maxim. Essential oil Inductively coupled plasma tandem mass spectrometry n-Hexane Trace elements 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81603400) and the Scientific and Technological Research Program of Chongqing Municipal Education Commission (KJ1601224).

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with humans or animals.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringCentral South UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringYangtze Normal UniversityChongqingChina

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