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Characterization of polyoxyethylene tallow amine surfactants in technical mixtures and glyphosate formulations using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography and triple quadrupole mass spectrometry

Tush, Daniel, Loftin, Keith A., Meyer, Michael T.
Journal of chromatography 2013 v.1319 pp. 80-87
additives, aquatic organisms, glyphosate, high performance liquid chromatography, ingredients, ions, nonionic surfactants, pesticide formulations, polyethylene glycol, quantitative analysis, tallow, tandem mass spectrometry, toxicity, ultra-performance liquid chromatography
Little is known about the occurrence, fate, and effects of the ancillary additives in pesticide formulations. Polyoxyethylene tallow amine (POEA) is a non-ionic surfactant used in many glyphosate formulations, a widely applied herbicide both in agricultural and urban environments. POEA has not been previously well characterized, but has been shown to be toxic to various aquatic organisms. Characterization of technical mixtures using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) and mass spectrometry shows POEA is a complex combination of homologs of different aliphatic moieties and ranges of ethoxylate units. Tandem mass spectrometry experiments indicate that POEA homologs generate no product ions readily suitable for quantitative analysis due to poor sensitivity. A comparison of multiple high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and UHPLC analytical columns indicates that the stationary phase is more important in column selection than other parameters for the separation of POEA. Analysis of several agricultural and household glyphosate formulations confirms that POEA is a common ingredient but ethoxylate distributions among formulations vary.