Determination of pesticide levels in wastewater from an agro-food industry: Target, suspect and transformation product analysis.Chemosphere. 2019 Oct; 232:152-163.C
Agriculture is considered as the main source of water contamination by pesticides. However, food packaging or processing industries are also recognised as relevant point sources of contamination by these compounds, not yet investigated in depth. The objective of this work has been to improve current knowledge about the presence and concentration of pesticides in the effluent of a food processing industry, as well as to investigate their main transformation products (TPs). An analytical strategy combining target and suspect analysis has been applied to provide an evaluation of the effluents. The methodology involves solid-phase extraction (SPE) of wastewater samples followed by (i) liquid chromatography quadrupole-linear ion trap tandem mass spectrometry (LC-QqLIT-MS/MS) for quantitative target analysis and (ii) liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole-time-of-flight high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF-HRMS) to identify non-target pesticides and possible TPs. The results revealed the presence of 17 of the target pesticides analysed and 3 additional ones as a result of the suspect screening performed by HRMS. The TPs were investigated for the pesticides found at the highest concentrations: imazalil (7038-19802 ng/L), pyrimethanil (744-9591 ng/L) and thiabendazole (341-926 ng/L). Up to 14 TPs could be tentatively identified, demonstrating the relevance of this type of studies. These data provide a better understanding of the occurrence of pesticides and their TPs in agro-food industrial effluents.