Solid-phase extraction method for stable isotope analysis of pesticides from large volume environmental water samples†
Compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) is a valuable tool for assessing the fate of organic pollutants in the environment. However, the requirement of sufficient analyte mass for precise isotope ratio mass spectrometry combined with prevailing low environmental concentrations currently limits comprehensive applications to many micropollutants. Here, we evaluate the upscaling of solid-phase extraction (SPE) approaches for routine CSIA of herbicides. To cover a wide range of polarity, a SPE method with two sorbents (a hydrophobic hypercrosslinked sorbent and a hydrophilic sorbent) was developed. Extraction conditions, including the nature and volume of the elution solvent, the amount of sorbent and the solution pH, were optimized. Extractions of up to 10 L of agricultural drainage water (corresponding to up to 200 000-fold pre-concentration) were successfully performed for precise and sensitive carbon and nitrogen CSIA of the target herbicides atrazine, acetochlor, metolachlor and chloridazon, and metabolites desethylatrazine, desphenylchloridazon and 2,6-dichlorobenzamide in the sub-μg L−1-range. 13C/12C and 15N/14N ratios were measured by gas chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC/IRMS), except for desphenylchloridazon, for which liquid chromatography (LC/IRMS) and derivatization-GC/IRMS were used, respectively. The method validated in this study is an important step towards analyzing isotope ratios of pesticide mixtures in aquatic systems and holds great potential for multi-element CSIA applications to trace pesticide degradation in complex environments.