Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 1588–1596 | Cite as

Occurrence of the herbicide glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA in surface waters in Switzerland determined with on-line solid phase extraction LC-MS/MS

  • Thomas PoigerEmail author
  • Ignaz J. Buerge
  • Astrid Bächli
  • Markus D. Müller
  • Marianne E. Balmer
Research Article


Glyphosate is currently one of the most important herbicides worldwide. Its unique properties provide for a wide range of uses in agriculture but also in non-agricultural areas. At the same time, its zwitterionic nature prevents the inclusion in multi-residue analytical methods for environmental monitoring. Consequently, despite its extensive use, data on occurrence of glyphosate in the aquatic environment is still scarce. Based on existing methods, we developed a simplified procedure for the determination of glyphosate and its main metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in water samples using derivatization with fluorenylmethyl chloroformate FMOC-Cl, combined with on-line solid phase extraction and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) detection. This method was extensively tested on over 1000 samples of surface water, groundwater, and treated wastewater and proved to be simple, sensitive, and reliable. Limits of quantification of 0.005 μg/L were routinely achieved. Glyphosate and AMPA were detected in the vast majority of stream water samples in the area of Zurich, Switzerland, with median concentrations of 0.11 and 0.20 μg/L and 95th percentile concentrations of 2.1 and 2.6 μg/L, respectively. Stream water data and data from treated wastewater indicated that non-agricultural uses may significantly contribute to the overall loads of glyphosate and AMPA in surface waters. In the investigated groundwater samples, selected specifically because they had shown presence of other herbicides in previous monitoring programs, glyphosate and AMPA were generally not detected, except for two monitoring sites in Karst aquifers, indicating that these compounds show much less tendency for leaching.


Glyphosate AMPA Surface water Groundwater Wastewater LC-MS/MS 



This project was funded in part by the Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN), the Office of Waste, Water, Energy and Air (WWEA) of the Canton of Zurich (AWEL), and the Direction générale de l’environnement (DGE) of the Canton of Vaud. We thank the personnel of AWEL, DGE, Labor Veritas, Zurich, the Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zurich, and various WWTPs for providing of water samples. We also gratefully acknowledge the support in the laboratory of Mirjam Halter, David Voerkel, Martina Keller, and Sebastian Huntscha during method development and analysis during various sampling campaigns.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AgroscopeWädenswilSwitzerland

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