Organophosphorus pesticide determination in biological specimens: bioanalytical and toxicological aspects

  • Sofia Soares
  • Tiago Rosado
  • Mário Barroso
  • Duarte Nuno Vieira
  • Eugenia GallardoEmail author


Organophosphorus insecticides, such as parathion-ethyl, quinalphos, chlorpyrifos, chlorfenvinphos or diazinon, are still widely used for pest control on crops. These compounds are extremely toxic to humans, and, even though specific legislation exists that controls the use of these substances, the frequency of toxic and/or fatal events and the existing data suggest that they are still easily accessed and the knowledge associated to the risks is not well-recognized. For these reasons, the determination of the exposure to these compounds, their detection (and of their metabolites as well) in biological samples, is of great importance in clinical and forensic toxicology, and, therefore, the development of techniques for this evaluation is an important task for laboratories. Most confirmatory analyses use blood, serum, plasma and urine as biological samples and are performed by either gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric or liquid chromatographic-mass spectrometric instrumentation, which represents the gold standard in what concerns high sensitivity. This paper will not only address the physical–chemical and toxicological aspects of this class of compounds but also perform a comprehensive and critical review on the analytical methods available for their determination in biological specimens, with special focus on the latest instrumental developments and sample preparation approaches.


Organophosphorus pesticides Human biological samples Bioanalytical methods Forensic toxicological analysis 



This work is supported by the FEDER funds through the POCI-COMPETE 2020—Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalisation in Axis I—strengthening research, technological development and innovation (project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007491) and the National Funds by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) (project UID/Multi /00709/2013). S. Soares acknowledges Programme Santander-Totta Universidades in the form of a fellowship (Bolsa BID/UBI-Santander Universidades/2018).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest and ethical standards

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Investigação em Ciências da Saúde (CICS-UBI)Universidade da Beira InteriorCovilhãPortugal
  2. 2.Laboratório de Fármaco-Toxicologia—UBIMedicalUniversidade da Beira InteriorCovilhãPortugal
  3. 3.Serviço de Química e Toxicologia ForensesInstituto Nacional de Medicina Legal e Ciências Forenses, Delegação do SulLisboaPortugal
  4. 4.Faculdade de MedicinaUniversidade de CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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