Whenever a GC column is used to identify and/or quantify a sample, the column stationary phase can bleed into the MS source along with the sample. High column bleed can hinder the analysis of a sample. The resulting spectral interference typically manifests itself as discrete peaks and/or an increase in the drift of the baseline, which in turn, produces data with low signal-to-noise and poor sensitivity.
The GC-EI mass spectra below are two examples showing high column bleed. The ion peaks at m/z 73, 133, 193, 207, 267, 281, 355 and 429 are not part of the purified sample but pertain to the column stationary phase. The major column bleed ion, m/z 207, is a result of the formation of hexamethylcyclotrisiloxane. The presence of these characteristic masses for siloxanes indicates there is a significant column bleed and that the column may need replacing.