Using Mass Spectrometry for Residue Applications

Using Mass Spectrometry for Residue Applications

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Scientists at NACRW discussed using CE–MS to analyze highly polar agrochemicals.

At the North American Chemical Residue Workshop on Tuesday, Erik Rangel Rivera of the University of California, Davis, presented a study on using capillary electrophoresis (CE)-, normal atmospheric pressure (NAP)-, and particle beam (PB)– mass spectrometry (MS) for a variety of agricultural, ecological, and environmental analysis.

CE–MS is useful for the analysis of highly polar agrochemicals, including protic organics and inorganics, formerly prone to matrix suppression and chromatographic complications associated with reversed phase and ion exchange techniques.

The researchers analyzed multiple polar pesticides and nutrients, which were chosen for various reasons. One such reason was that some substances had highly publicized concerns about health effects. For example, glyphosate, which is an herbicide that can kill many types of plant life, may be linked to cancer or cause liver and kidney damage, though studies on these topics typically involve animals.

Other substances were recorded to have maximum residue limit (MRL) violations caused by biogenic and anthropogenic interferents, such as fosetyl-aluminum and phosphonic/phosphoric acids. These substances, though previously worried to have dangers in being used on food, have undergone various risk assessments that have concluded them to be unlikely risks to consumer health. In these cases, the large amounts of these compounds that are used each year were partly meant to maximize the global food supply.


The session also highlights how NAP–MS has helped broaden scientists’ understanding of “fugitive emissions”, while PB–MS has been tested based off how it ends up beneficial in being applied to MOSH/MAOH residues.


(1) Rivera, E. R.; Hall IV, W. A.; Walse, S. S. Capillary electrophoresis, normal atmospheric pressure, and particle beam mass spectrometry for residue applications. In Book of Abstracts, 2023 North American Chemical Residue Workshop, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

(2) WebMD. Herbicides and Your Health. WebMD, 2023. (accessed 2023-07-26)

(3) European Food Safety Association. Modification of the existing maximum residue levels for fosetyl/phosphonic acid in chards/beet leaves and honey resulting from the use of potassium phosphonates. European Union, 2022. (accessed 2023-07-26)