2014 Volume 39 Issue 1 Pages 71-81
A reproducible method for monitoring traces of cholinesterase (ChE) inhibitors in acetonitrile extracts from fruits and vegetables is described. The method is based on hypochlorite oxidation and ChE inhibition assay. Four common representative samples of produce were selected from a supermarket to investigate the effect of different matrices on pesticides recoveries and assay precision. The samples were extracted with acetonitrile to prepare them for ChE inhibition assays: if necessary, clean-up was performed using dispersive solid-phase extraction for gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analyses. Chlorine was tested as an oxidising reagent for the conversion of thiophosphorus pesticides (P=S compounds) into their P=O analogues, which have high ChE-inhibiting activity. Chlorine consumption of individual acetonitrile extracts was determined and was strongly dependent on the individual types of fruits and vegetables. After treating the acetonitrile extracts with an excess hypochlorite at 25°C for 15 min, the ChE-inhibiting activities and detection limits for each chlorine-treated pesticide solution were determined. Matrix composition did not interfere significantly with the determination of the pesticides. Enhanced anti-ChE activities leading to low detection limits (ppb levels) were observed for the chlorine-treated extracts that were spiked with chlorpyrifos, diazinon, fenitrothion, and isoxathion. This combination of oxidative derivatisation and ChE inhibition assays was used successfully to monitor and perform semi-quantitative determination of ChE inhibitors in apple, tomato, cucumber, and strawberry samples.