Simultaneous Screening of Herbicide Degradation Byproducts in Water Treatment Plants Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry

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Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry



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Currently, herbicides are widely used in various combinations at many stages of cultivation and during postharvest storage. There are increasing concerns about the public health impact of herbicide degradation byproducts that may be present in water bodies used either as drinking water or for recreational purposes. This work investigated the sulfonic acid and oxanilic acid degradation products of metolachlor, alachlor, acetochlor, and propachlor in a variety of water bodies. The objective was to develop a fast, accurate, and easy method for quantitative analysis of herbicide degradation products using liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry without solid phase extraction, but performing levels of detection lower than those obtained in previous studies with solid phase extraction. This research also screened 68 water samples, both untreated source water and treated water, from 34 water treatment plants in Missouri. Finally, it examined seasonal trends in levels of those degradation products by collecting and testing samples monthly. This highly sensitive method can analyze these degradation products to low ng/L levels. The method limit of quantification ranges from 0.04 to 0.05 ppb for each analyte; and quantitative analyses show a precision with RSDs of around 0.6% to 3% in treated water and 2% to 19% in untreated source water. Concentrations of alachlor ESA, acetochlor OA, metolachlor OA, and metolachlor ESA were detected from the Missouri River and the Mississippi River water bodies in summer time. Occurrences of these compounds in treated water samples are all lower than those in the untreated source water samples.

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