Using sophisticated mass spectrometry equipment at PNNL, researchers have been able to identify breakdown products of a common pesticide in the saliva of rats exposed to known amounts of the pesticide. The researchers are working now to develop a simpler, portable microanalytical sensor system to quickly diagnose pesticide exposure in humans and a modeling method than can estimate the dose. Researchers say the technology could be adapted to test for a variety of contaminants, including chemical warfare agents.
The research project began with an Environmental Protection Agency grant to study pesticide exposure in adults and children working or living near farms. The research team exposed rats to a common agricultural chemical and found traces in the saliva shortly after exposure.
"The fact that we were able to find the chemical in very low concentrations confirms that saliva can be a reliable, non-invasive method to monitor farm or industrial workers who are exposed routinely to potentially harmful pesticides," said Jim Campbell, an analytical chemist working with mass spectrometers at PNNL.
Researchers believe saliva monitoring may be able to detect a broad range of chemical contaminants from ongoing occupational exposure, accidents or even acts of war and terrorism.
"The class of pesticides we are studying, organophosphates, are chemically similar and work on the same general principal as nerve gas," said Charles Timchalk, a Battelle toxicologist at PNNL. "Both pesticides and nerve gases inh
Contact: Susan Bauer
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory