Occurrence and distribution of pesticides in precipitation as revealed by targeted screening through GC-MS/MS

Hui Zhang, Simon Watts, Martin C. Philix, Shane A. Snyder, Choon Nam Ong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Facing the tough challenge of precise measurement of ever-increasing numbers of organic contaminants in the environment, there is an urgent need for more reliable and cost-effective methodologies. In this study, we developed and validated a screening method for analysis of over 450 pesticides in precipitation using gas chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) in multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode. Solid phase extraction (SPE) was applied to extract target analytes from precipitation. Using this targeted approach, we managed to detect 123 pesticides with maximum retention time shifts below 0.1 min (except for DEET) in 101 precipitation samples collected between October 2015 and March 2017 in Singapore. This is probably the first study to report the measurements of a wide range of pesticides in precipitation. A spectrum of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and their synergists were detected and among them DEET, malathion and carbaryl were the most frequently detected pesticides (detection frequency: 100%, 96% & 67%). The Spearman correlations suggest that some pesticides of different subgroups had significant correlations. It is believed that these finding could shed light on the understanding of the contribution of precipitation to environmental contaminants in water cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-217
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • GC-MS/MS
  • Pesticides
  • Precipitation
  • Targeted screening
  • Water cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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