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A reliable LC-MS/MS-based method for trace level determination of 50 medium to highly polar pesticide residues in sediments and ecological risk assessment

Maria Vittoria Barbieri, Cristina Postigo, Luis Simón Monllor-Alcaraz, Damià Barceló, Miren López de Alda
Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2019 v.411 no.30 pp. 7981-7996
aquatic ecosystems, aquatic organisms, bioaccumulation, chemical species, diazinon, dichlorvos, environmental assessment, environmental impact, hydrophobicity, isotope dilution technique, liquid chromatography, liquids, pesticide residues, risk, risk assessment, rivers, sediments, solid phase extraction, standard deviation, tandem mass spectrometry, terbuthylazine, terbutryn, Spain
The occurrence of polar pesticides in sediments has not been extensively investigated because of their relatively poor hydrophobicity and apparently less persistence in the environment. However, their continuous release into the aquatic systems calls for the evaluation of their potential accumulation in sediments and the role of this matrix as a potential source of these compounds. Considering this, a method based on pressurized liquid extraction (PLE), extract clean-up by solid phase extraction (SPE), and analyte determination by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was developed and validated to analyze 50 relevant (frequently used and/or regulated or found in water) medium to highly polar pesticides in sediments. The method showed good performance regarding accuracy (relative recoveries between 76 and 124%), precision (relative standard deviation values < 20%), sensitivity (LODs in the low nanogram per gram for most compounds), linearity (coefficients of determination > 0.99), and matrix effects (negligible for all analytes). The use of an isotope dilution approach for quantification ensures result reliability. As a part of the validation process, the method was applied to the analysis of the target pesticides in sediments from the Llobregat River (NE Spain) showing the presence of five of them, namely, terbutryn, dichlorvos, terbuthylazine, diazinon, and irgarol. All 5 pesticides, due to both the concentrations found and their physical-chemical characteristics, demonstrate high potential for bioaccumulation and risk to aquatic organisms. Additional multi-disciplinary studies that investigate pesticide occurrence in different aquatic compartments and evaluate the potential risks for aquatic ecosystems are required to assess the environmental impact and significance of the presence of pesticides in sediments. Graphical Abstract