Monitoring of total type II pyrethroid pesticides in citrus oils and water by converting to a common product 3-phenoxybenzoic acid

Mark R. McCoy, Zheng Yang, Xun Fu, Ki Chang Ahn, Shirley J. Gee, David C. Bom, Ping Zhong, Dan Chang, Bruce D. Hammock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Pyrethroids are a class of insecticides that are becoming increasingly popular in agricultural and home use applications. Sensitive assays for pyrethroid insecticides in complex matrices are difficult with both instrumental and immunochemical methods. Environmental analysis of the pyrethroids by immunoassay requires either knowing which pyrethroids contaminate the source or the use of nonspecific antibodies with cross-reactivities to a class of compounds. We describe an alternative method that converts the type II pyrethroids to a common chemical product, 3-phenoxybenzoic acid (3-PBA), prior to analysis. This method is much more sensitive than detecting the parent compound, and it is much easier to detect a single compound rather than an entire class of compounds. This is useful in screening for pyrethroids as a class or in situations where a single type of pyrethroid is used. We demonstrated this technique in both citrus oils and environmental water samples with conversion rates of the pyrethroid to 3-PBA that range from 45 to 75% and methods that require no extraction steps for either the immunoassay or the liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) techniques. Limits of detection for this technique applied to orange oil are 5 nM, 2 μM, and 0.8 μM when detected by LC-MS/MS, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and immunoassay, respectively. The limit of detection for pyrethroids in water when detected by immunoassay was 2 nM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5065-5070
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 23 2012


  • 3-phenoxybenzoic acid
  • citrus oil
  • immunoassay
  • orange oil
  • pyrethroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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