A Laboratory Success Story – Colombian Pesticide Residues Analysis Laboratory

A Laboratory Success Story – Colombian Pesticide Residues Analysis Laboratory The Pesticide Residues Analysis Laboratory (LARP) of the Chemistry Department at Universidad Nacional de Colombia was created with the specific objective to solve problems related to agrochemical use and misuse in Colombia.

The laboratory was inaugurated in 2000 under the auspices of the IAEA technical cooperation project COL/5/018 “Assessment of Pesticide Residues in Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers and their Impact on the Environment”. The IAEA project provided access to regional experts and the necessary infrastructure, including instruments and supplies to help establish quality system management.

In 2005 the technical cooperation project COL/5/022 “Assessment of the Impact of Pesticides Use in Tota Lake, Boyaca, Colombia” funded a liquid scintillation analyzer. This project involved close cooperation with the Food and Environmental Protection Laboratory (FEPL) in Seibersdorf and enabled LARP to become a service laboratory with an efficient quality control and quality assurance system for the analysis of agrochemical residues. A key output was the production of a video that showcased LARP on national television.

The laboratory was accredited under ISO 17025 on March, 6th 2007. This formally recognized LARP’s commitment to provide accurate and reliable results. Having achieved accreditation, results produced by LARP started to be recognized nationally and internationally.

A Laboratory Success Story – Colombian Pesticide Residues Analysis Laboratory LARP offers analytical services which include the analysis of volatile pesticides by gas chromatography with specific detectors such as 63Ni electron capture detector for the determination of organochlorine compounds, nitrogen phosphorous detector for compounds that contain nitrogen or phosphorus, and the flame photometric detector for compounds that contain phosphorus or sulfur. Mass spectrometry is mainly used for the confirmation of positive results.

For the analysis of more polar and less volatile pesticides LARP offers high performance liquid chromatographic techniques with post-colum derivatization, fluorescence and diode array (DAD) detectors. Generally, LARP employs multi-residues methodologies for determination of pesticides residues in fruits, vegetables, cereals, coffee, vegetable oils, water and soils.

Over the years, LARP gradually increased its laboratory area and improved the infrastructure of the instrument laboratory where the chromatographic instruments are located. Similarly, the sample preparation laboratory where extraction and clean up of samples are carried out was recently brought into full compliance with ISO 17025 requirements. This laboratory now has the necessary equipment for preparation, processing, extraction and clean-up procedures of samples. The laboratory adheres to stringent safety requirements to protect the laboratory personnel.

A Laboratory Success Story – Colombian Pesticide Residues Analysis Laboratory Recently the laboratory was commissioned to investigate the environmental fate of agrochemicals utilizing radioisotopes. In addition to the analytical services offered, the laboratory staff is actively involved in scientific research programmes where pre-graduate and post-graduate students can obtain university degrees. With IAEA’s support, eight pre-graduate students and eight master students have completed their theses. Currently, there are four Masters students and two Ph.D. students carrying out their research investigations at LARP.

The laboratory participated in the IAEA coordinated research project “Testing the Efficiency and Uncertainty of Sample Processing for Analysis of Food Contaminants and in the IAEA technical regional projects including: Strengthening Laboratory Capacity to Assess the Implementation (GAPs) in the Production of Fruits and Vegetables in Latin America (RLA/5/050) and Implementing a Diagnosis System to Assess the Impact of Pesticide Contamination in Food in Environmental Compartments at a Catchment Scale in the Latin American and Caribbean region (ARCAL RLA/5/053).

LARP researchers have published more than 20 articles in national and international journals and presented over 20 posters in different congresses and conferences. At the 12th IUPAC International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry held in Melbourne, Australia in July 2010, a 2nd place was awarded for the poster presented by LARP and IAEA staff, and others, on “Reliability of Available Environmental Fate Data (Kd and Koc) for Pesticide Risk Assessment in Latin America”.

A Laboratory Success Story – Colombian Pesticide Residues Analysis Laboratory LARP aims to maintain accreditation and to offer a range of analytical products on a fee-for-service basis, thus ensuring the sustainability of the laboratory and providing national capacity to determine the environmental impact and fate of agrochemicals. LARP is a member of the Latin American and Caribbean laboratory network and is fostering research programs to solve pressing regional food and environmental security problems.

The laboratory’s high quality pre- and post-graduate professionals undertake expert missions and provide training aimed at minimizing misuse of pesticides in the region. The work includes advising national and international institutions and sharing experience with other laboratories in the region to solve food and environmental issues and advance laboratory capabilities to monitor good agriculture practice.