Every week I come across a new article relating to pesticides. Just this week I was reading about a peer-reviewed study in Germany that shows glyphosate and dozens of other pesticides can travel through air into our national parks and cities miles away from the site of spraying. This means pesticides are not only entering the food chain, but also polluting sites of natural beauty and entering the air we breathe.
The pesticide crisis continues. Earlier in 2021, Greta Thunberg criticized the UK government for allowing the use of a potent “bee-killing” pesticide, which the European Union had already banned. In France, President Macron vows to push forward the phasing out of pesticides during his presidency term. With mounting pressure coming from a vast number of environmental charities and the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, which commits to reducing pesticide use by 50 percent by 2030 as part of the European Green Deal.
While it is encouraging to have these targets, pesticides are a problem now and analysis of pesticides in our food is challenging, due mainly to the diverse sample matrices of all manner of food types.
Glyphosate is one of the most commonly used pesticides and one of the most difficult to analyze. Highly polar and ionic, and insoluble in organic solvents and no naturally occurring chromophore, glyphosate doesn’t loan itself well to traditional HLPC.
The good news is that glyphosate can readily be analyzed by ion chromatography, and recently an updated IC-MS/MS method was included in an EU reference laboratory single residue method (EURL-SRM).
Even better news: The method is utilizing the Thermo Scientific™ Dionex™ IonPac™ AS19 column, and the coverage of polar pesticides is higher than any other method.
Method 11 (M11) version 12 gives the “Proposed IC-MS/MS conditions for Glyphosate, AMPA, N-Acetyl-Glyphosate, Ethephon, HEPA, Glufosinate, MPPA, Fosetyl-Al, Cyanuric acid, Bromide, Chlorate, Perchlorate, Phosphonic acid and TFA and utilizes Thermo Scientific™ Dionex™ Eluent Generation technology.”
The previous version, 11.1 utilized the Dionex™ IonPac™ AS11 column, but with LC-MS technology.
The inclusion of IC-MS/MS and updated column chemistry with the IonPac™ AS19 means that this is an approved and recommended technique and gives the most coverage of the separation of the polar pesticides listed and meets EU regulations in SANTE/11945/2015. The use of eluent generation technology means users can benefit from ultra-pure, highly reproducible eluents made inline by the system — meaning no more manually prepared, tricky buffer solutions.
With the IC-MS/MS method, no inline prefilters are needed, which are commonplace for HPLC methods, and the method comes with a section of handy hints to help get you started.
In this video interview, Ann-Kathrin Wachtler from CVUA Stuttgart, a European reference laboratory for pesticides analysis, talks about the challenges of polar pesticide analysis, their initial reluctance to use ion chromatography as an unknown technology to their lab, and how IC helped overcome the challenges they faced leading to the inclusion in the EURL-SRM.