GC-MS Testing

Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry, more commonly known as GC-MS or GC/MS Testing, is a highly effective method of identifying the type and percentage of individual substances contained within a particular sample. GC-MS testing combines gas chromatography and mass spectrometry into one machine, streamlining the testing and analysis processes.

By employing GC-MS, technicians can separate each individual element from a liquid, solid, or gas and then carefully assess the sample to ensure that raw materials or finished components don’t contain impurities or toxic substances.

At IMR Test Labs, we provide GC-MS testing as part of our comprehensive suite of industrial testing services.


Essentials of GC-MS Testing

First, samples are transmitted through the gas chromatography testing stage via a carrier gas which reacts differently when presented with unique materials. Sample compounds move at varying speeds based on their particle size and charge, which causes the specific elements within a compound to separate; This allows for substance identification and analysis.

The testing samples then move on to the mass spectrometer stage, where the molecules are ionized and classified based on the mass-to-charge ratio within the particles. The dual testing process of GC-MS allows for extremely accurate classification and measurements.

GC-MS is an ideal method to determine the composition of liquid and gas samples, which can be easily inserted directly into the gas chromatography equipment for immediate testing. GC-MS testing also delivers effective results for solids, though solid compounds must first be deconstructed using one of several methods – such as pyrolysis, thermal desorption, or solvent extraction – before samples can be separated and injected into the gas chromatography equipment. Expert chemists, like those on the team at IMR Test Labs, can use additional sophisticated methods – including derivatization or static headspace analysis – to prepare an even wider range of solids for GC-MS analysis.

This testing option is most commonly used to identify organic compounds, but it can be useful in other testing applications as well. Some of these additional applications include:

  • Testing compound purities
  • Toxicity testing on plastics
  • Silicon wafer contaminant testing
  • Outgassing evaluations
  • Testing for residue


These services are in high demand across a wide range of industries. Many sectors rely on GC-MS testing to guarantee that the materials they work with and the products they fabricate are safe for their workforce and consumers. Some of these industries include:

  • Pharmaceutical
  • Food & beverage
  • Electronics manufacturing
  • Polymer fabrication
  • Packaging manufacturing

GC-MS for Hazardous Materials

The flexibility of GC-MS testing makes it well suited for analyzing dangerous or unknown compounds. Because the temperatures used to vaporize testing samples for gas chromatography analysis are adjustable, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs/SVOCs, respectively) can still be thoroughly analyzed and identified despite their low boiling points.

For example, public health concerns over the potential toxicity of phthalate exposure in consumer products, especially those intended for use by children or pregnant women, have led many plastic manufacturers to seek testing methods to determine the presence of phthalates in their final products. GC-MS offers a trustworthy, precise option to test these products to ensure they don’t pose potential risks to consumers.

Manufacturers have also found GC-MS testing to be an invaluable tool for regulatory compliance, both domestically and internationally. California’s Electronic Waste Recycling Act (EWRA) regulates the use of dangerous substances such as cadmium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium in the manufacture of electronics and electronic components 

The law, which is based on the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), has been emulated by a range of other countries that trade with the United States. While no federal law currently exists in the United States, many other states are considering implementing laws similar to California’s EWRA.

Because GC-MS testing accurately identifies the presence of a wide range of VOC and SVOCs, this method ensures that the presence of such substances remains within acceptable tolerances for regulatory compliance based on the application. It’s also highly useful for ensuring the safety of pharmaceutical and food products.

GC-MS testing has significant advantages over other material identification methods, such as:

  • Speed

Most GC-MS tests take less than an hour to complete, often allowing for same-day or next-day turnarounds.

  • Flexibility

Testing parameters can be adjusted based on sample type and specifications.

  • Broad usage

Identifying an incredibly diverse range of materials and contaminants, GC-MS testing offers wide limits for detection and provides extremely accurate results.

  • Low waste

Sample sizes for GC-MS testing are very small, limiting the amount of material necessary to obtain a comprehensive analysis.

GC-MS at IMR Test Labs

IMR Test Labs has extensive experience in providing GC-MS testing services for a wide range of customers across a variety of industries

We have also been designated as an accepted laboratory by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and are dedicated to applying our certified testing services to guarantee the safety of consumer products sold by our customers. With dedicated testing personnel and laboratory facilities for the testing of phthalates along with other potential consumer dangers, our experienced IMR team can assess your raw materials or finished products to ensure they are safe for manufacturing or distribution.

If you’re looking for reliable, accurate GC-MS or other testing services, our expert chemists and attentive customer service team will work with you to determine the best solution for your application. We provide highly accurate results, on schedule, every time.

To learn more about our service offerings, please call us at 888-464-8422 to speak to a testing professional about your project, or request a quote.

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