Matrix effects (MEs) can adversely affect quantification in pesticide residue analysis using GC. Analyte protectants (APs) can effectively interact with and mask active sites in the GC system, and are added individually or in combination to sample extracts and calibration solutions to minimize errors related to MEs. Unfortunately, APs cannot sufficiently compensate for MEs in all cases. Plant extracts, containing a broad range of natural compounds with AP properties, can also be used for this purpose. In this study, the applicability of cucumber extract as a natural AP mixture was investigated both alone and in combination with traditional APs. Extracts of two selected difficult matrices (onion and garlic) were prepared according to the citrate-buffered QuEChERS (quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe) procedure. ME values of 40 representative GC-amenable pesticides were compared when calibrating against standards in pure solvent and in cucumber extract, with and without the addition of APs. Using a GC system with a contaminated inlet liner, the use of a cucumber-based calibration solution decreased MEs remarkably. The combination of APs with cucumber raw extract further decreased MEs, resulting in more than 85% of the tested pesticides showing ≤ 10% ME in onion and ≤ 20% ME in garlic. These results demonstrate that the preparation of calibration standards based on cucumber extracts (with or without the addition of APs) is a very useful and practical approach to compensate for MEs in pesticide residue analysis using QuEChERS and GC-MS/MS. The use of various internal standards is furthermore critically discussed.
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This study was performed with support from the “Cooperative Research Project between the EU-Reference Laboratory for Residues of Pesticides requiring Single Residue Methods (EURL-SRM) hosted at the Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt (CVUA) Stuttgart and National Institute of Agricultural Sciences (NAS) of the Rural Development Administration (RDA) of the Republic of Korea (Project No. PJ012217).”
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences (NAS) of the Rural Development Administration (RDA).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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