A corona discharge ion source operating at atmospheric pressure in the point-to-piane configuration was constructed by reconfiguring the ion source of a commercial electrospray ionization (ESI) quadrupole mass spectrometer. This new source allows direct air analysis without modification to the mass spectrometer. Detection and quantitation of semi-volatile compounds in air is demonstrated. The analytical performance of the system was established using the chemical warfare agent simulants methyl salicylate and dimethyl methylphosphonate. Limits of detection are 60 pptr in the negative-ion mode and 800 pptr in the positive-ion mode for methyl salicylate and 800 pptr in the negative-ion mode and 3.6 ppb in the positive-ion mode for dimethyl methylphosphonate. A linear response was observed from 60 pptr to 8 ppb for methyl salicylate in air in the negative-ionization mode. Cluster ion formation versus production of analyte ions was investigated and it was found that dry air or an elevated capillary interface temperature (130°C) was needed to avoid extensive clustering, mostly of water. Reagent gases are not needed as proton sources, as is usually the case for atmospheric pressure chemical ionization, and this, together with the simplicity, sensitivity and speed of the technique, makes it promising for miniaturization and future field studies.