Weed out pesticides and herbicides in drinking water and wastewater

Pesticide and herbicide contamination of water sources is a critical public health concern that demands sensitive, accurate testing methods such as liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). 

We know that clean water is essential for life. But our water quality is threatened by thousands of chemical contaminants. For instance, while farmlands tend to have adequate drainage systems implemented, water from extreme rainfall and irrigation cannot always be contained by the soil structure. This is where the trouble begins. Pesticide and herbicide residues can potentially flow into groundwater and freshwater supplies over a large geographical area. Pesticides are also widely used in gardens and lawns, and can similarly discharge into our water supplies. These contaminants pose potential health risks.1,2

We know the stakes are high. A single drop of pesticide (i.e., herbicide, insecticide, fumigant, etc.) is enough to violate permissible limits, and even more concerning are the health implications of these pesticides when mixed with our drinking water.

A highly sensitive water testing approach

With LC-MS/MS technology, scientists and researchers can analyze even low levels of pesticides in water, and then use this information to inform risk assessments for human health. SCIEX supports these efforts with sensitive and accurate LC-MS/MS solutions that help enable the efficient testing and monitoring of water, from source to consumer, for a vast range of contaminants. Water testing typically requires time-consuming sample preparation to meet the ultra-low detection limits enforced by regulators. LC-MS/MS solutions from SCIEX for water quality testing provide labs with:

  • Simplified workflows for the direct injection of water samples for analysis, with minimal sample preparation required
  • Enhanced sensitivity for the reliable detection of trace chemical levels in samples
  • Flexible and robust qualitative and quantitative performance characteristics, with simultaneous targeted and non-targeted contaminant screening
  • The ability to analyze for diverse compound classes, including pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, organic chlorine compounds, industrial chemicals, complexing agents and even unknown degradation or chemical byproducts, all in a single injection
  1. Porter, W.P.; Jaeger, J.W.; Carlson, I.H. Endocrine, immune, and behavioral effects of aldicarb (carbamate), atrazine (triazine) and nitrate (fertilizer) mixtures at groundwater concentrations. Toxicol Ind Health 1999, 15, 133–150. doi: 10.1191/074823399678846691
  2. Chèvre, N.; Loepfe, C.; Singer, H.; Stamm, C.; Fenner, K.; Escher, B.I. Including mixtures in the determination of water quality criteria for herbicides in surface water. Environ Sci Technol. 2006, 40, 426–435. doi: 10.1021/es050239
  3. Younes, M. and Galal-Gorchev, H. Pesticides in Drinking Water—A Case Study. Food and Chemical Toxicology 1 Apr. 2000, 38 (1), 87–90. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(99)00132-5



Simultaneously monitor hundreds of pesticides

X500R QTOF System

This easy-to-use accurate mass spectrometer system analyzes data faster using the power of SWATH® Acquisition.

SCIEX OS Software

This all-in-one software lets you acquire, process and analyze data, and even generate reports.

QTRAP® systems

Use the MRM sensitivity of a triple quadrupole system to get even better identification and quantification.

ExionLC™ AC System

Build on the modular design of this system to expand your laboratory's range of applications and analyses.


Learning Center  
Advantages of using triple quadrupole over single quadrupole mass spectrometry to quantify and identify the presence of pesticides in water and soil samples Download
Fast, selective and sensitive screening for more than 1000 targeted pesticides with identification using automated library searching Download
The detection of acidic herbicides and phenyl ureas by LC-MS/MS with large volume injection and automated column switching Download
LC-MS/MS analysis of water using the Eksigent® ekspert microLC 200 and AB SCIEX QTRAP® 4500 Download
Fast and sensitive analysis of paraquat and diquat in drinking water Download
EPA Method 535: Detection of degradates of chloroacetanilides and other acetamide herbicides in water by LC-MS/MS Download