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Use of Buffering and Other Means to Improve Results of Problematic Pesticides in a Fast and Easy Method for Residue Analysis of Fruits and Vegetables

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A modification that entails the use of buffering during extraction was made to further improve results for certain problematic pesticides (e.g., folpet, dichlofluanid, chlorothalonil, and pymetrozine) in a simple, fast, and inexpensive method for the determination of pesticides in produce. The method, known as the quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) method for pesticide residues in foods, now involves the extraction of the sample with acetonitrile (MeCN) containing 1% acetic acid (HAc) and simultaneous liquid–liquid partitioning formed by adding anhydrous MgSO4 plus sodium acetate (NaAc). The extraction method is carried out by shaking a centrifuge tube which contains 1 mL of 1% HAc in MeCN plus 0.4 g anhydrous MgSO4 and 0.1 g anhydrous NaAc per g sample. The tube is then centrifuged, and a portion of the extract is transferred to a tube containing 50 mg primary secondary amine sorbent plus 150 mg anhydrous MgSO4/mL of extract. After a mixing and centrifugation step, the extract is transferred to autosampler vials for concurrent analysis by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. Independent of the original sample pH, the use of buffering during the extraction yields pH <4 in the MeCN extract and >5 in the water phase, which increases recoveries of both acid- and base-sensitive pesticides. The method was evaluated for 32 diverse pesticides in different matrixes, and typical percent recoveries were 95 ± 10, even for some problematic pesticides. Optional solvent exchange to toluene prior to GC/MS analysis was also evaluated, showing equally good results with the benefit of lower detection limits, but at the cost of more time, material, labor, and expense.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Ln, Wyndmoor, PA 19038.

Publication date: 2005-03-01

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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