The suitability of fast atom bombardment (FAB) for the characterization of all class of industrial surfactants and their identification in raw and drinking water extracts is demonstrated. The behaviour of anionic, nonionic, cationic, phosphates and amphoteric surfactants under FAB conditions is shown and can be predicted. Some examples of accurate mass measurement as well as the usefulness of tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) for the characterization of unidentified or difficult peak assignation from FAB spectra of real samples are presented. The univocal identification of acidic metabolites of surfactants is also examplarized.

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