Determination of pesticides and persistent organic pollutants in honey by accelerated solvent extraction and GC-MS/MS

Poster Presentation

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Honey is a natural product that is widely used for both nutritional and medicinal purposes. It is generally considered a natural and healthy product of animal origin, free of impurities. However, honeybees are subject to a number of viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases and infestations. Insecticides, fungicides, and acaricides are used to protect colonies against infestations from hive beetle and parasites. Many pollutants in the environment can also contaminate the bees themselves in addition to their pollen, honey, and other bee products. Pollutants such as organochlorine pesticides (OCs), polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs), organophosphates (OPs), and polybromodiphenylethers (PBDEs) are a particular threat due to their environmental persistence and ability to bioaccumulate in the food chain. Due to the potential toxicity, a comprehensive workflow method for the extraction and analysis of these environmental pollutants is of growing importance to ensure the health and safety of bees and their honey.

Among the available extraction techniques, accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) offers shorter extraction times and reduced solvent consumption. ASE uses high temperatures combined with high pressure. A high temperature allows a higher rate of extraction due to a reduction in viscosity and surface tension, and increases the solubility and diffusion rate into the sample. At the same time, high pressure prevents the solvents from reaching their boiling point and promotes penetration into the sample. The method reported here is applicable for the extraction and analysis of four different classes of compounds (6 PCBs, 7 PBDEs, 16 OCs, and 19 OPs) in honey using ASE and GC-MS/MS. Eleven additional compounds, belonging to different classes and commonly used as agrochemicals, have also been investigated. The concentration ranges are 1 to 100 ng/g for PCBs, 0.5 to 10 ng/g for PBDEs, and 5 to 100 ng/g for OCs, OPs and all the agrochemicals.