Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 3, pp 715–724 | Cite as

A simple and rapid direct injection method for the determination of glyphosate and AMPA in environmental water samples

  • Elena OkadaEmail author
  • Timothy Coggan
  • Tarun Anumol
  • Bradley Clarke
  • Graeme Allinson
Research Paper


Glyphosate is currently the most widely used herbicide in the world, yet screening of environmental waters for this chemical is limited by the need for specialized derivatization and measurement methods that can be tedious and time-consuming. In this work, we present a novel method for the detection and quantification at trace levels of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in environmental water samples. The detection and quantification of the analytes was performed by liquid chromatography (LC) coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). Chromatographic separation was achieved with an ion-exchange column and a pH-gradient elution of a solution of ammonium hydroxide and ammonium acetate. The limit of detection for glyphosate and AMPA was 0.25 μg L-1 and the limit of quantification was 0.5 μg L-1with a 20-μL injection. The method was used to investigate the levels of glyphosate and AMPA in surface water samples from the Yarra River catchment area and urban constructed stormwater wetlands. The results indicate that at the time of sampling, no glyphosate or AMPA was present in the samples from the Yarra River catchment area (n = 10). However, glyphosate was detected above the limit of quantification in 33% of the wetland samples (n = 12), with concentrations ranging from 1.95 to 2.96 μg L-1. Similarly, AMPA was quantified in 83% of the wetland samples, with concentrations ranging from 0.55 to 2.42 μg L-1. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a pH-gradient LC–MS/MS method for glyphosate and AMPA analysis at ultratrace levels, with minimal sample processing, avoiding costly, time-consuming derivatization and preconcentration steps.

Graphical abstract


Direct injection Ion-exchange column pH gradient Glyphosate 



E.O. holds an Endeavour Research Fellowship (5911-2017) from the Department of Education and Training of the Australian Government. The authors thank Agilent Technologies for technical assistance with instrument setup and operation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Okada
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Timothy Coggan
    • 3
  • Tarun Anumol
    • 4
  • Bradley Clarke
    • 3
  • Graeme Allinson
    • 3
  1. 1.CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.EEA INTABalcarceArgentina
  3. 3.School of ScienceRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Agilent Technologies Inc.WilmingtonUSA

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