Understanding the difference between portable GC/MS and HPMS technologies
Mass spectrometry is mass spectrometry, right? Not exactly. Scientifically speaking, mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that uses the weight of individual chemical molecules and their fragments to identify an unknown sample. In the field, mass spectrometry has become an umbrella term for a wide range of analytical instruments, with applications ranging from health sciences and pharmaceutical research in a laboratory setting, to forensic science, environmental monitoring, military reconnaissance, and hazardous materials (HazMat) response teams doing field work. Field-based missions can be very different, and so can mass spectrometry techniques.
The most common MS techniques used by elite responders in the field are gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and high-pressure mass spectrometry (HPMS). Frequently they can be used together, but they are not interchangeable. To ensure the right tool is selected for the job, each technique and its capability must be considered in its entirety.