The presence of the carcinogenic N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDELA; CAS No. 1116-54-7) in cosmetic samples was determined using an etched, C18 modified capillary in the open-tubular capillary electrochromatography technique. A very simple extraction procedure leads to a sample matrix free from interferences. The calibration curve was created using UV detection at 214 nm. The detector response was linear in the range of 5–120 ppm total amount injected. Minimum detection limits (1 ppm NDELA injected on capillary) are suitable for screening a large number of cosmetic samples. Diethanolamine and triethanolamine precursors of nitrosamines are not detected at the wavelength used. Cosmetic samples were analyzed unspiked and after addition of 60 ppm of NDELA. In spiked samples recoveries varied from 94% (hand and body lotion) to 55% (lipstick sample). NDELA was found in unspiked samples of old (5–15 years old) cosmetics at concentrations of 14.0 ppm and 35.0 ppm.
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