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Plastic extraction disks make it easier to test levels of atrazine in field crops

COLLEGE STATION - It's 'plastic please' when it comes to scientists' choice of pesticide-water sampling devices in field crops.

Wide acceptance has been building for the compact plastic disks over glass containers which are used to collect water samples and determine threatening levels of pesticide runoff.

Experts say the glass containers were prone to break during transit from field to the laboratory, and have allowed chemicals to degrade prior to being analyzed.

The disks are used extensively as part of water quality research involving atrazine with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and Texas Cooperative Extension. Atrazine is a herbicide used to control broadleaf and grassy weeds.

The plastic round disks, known as "Solid Phase Extraction Disks," fit in the palm of your hand and filter water and other chemical compounds. Although the disks have made transit of water samples easier, Dr. Scott Senseman and a group of fellow southern region scientists are trying to determine if air temperature impacts samples on the plastic disks during transit.

"We're trying to determine if variations in heat cause differences in chemical stability," said Senseman, an Experiment Station scientist who also heads the Texas A&M University Pesticide Fate Research Laboratory.

"We can send samples in the mail with trace amounts of pesticides, and the temperature could be substantially high anywhere during the trip," he said. "We already know that several compounds are stable when attached to these disks when refrigerated, but what we don't know is how stable they are at higher temperatures like 40 or 50 degrees Celcius ."

Research has proven that pesticides attached to the disks are stable when testing a variety of compounds used as common crop protection chemicals, Senseman said. And the disks are easier to handle than glass containers.

"Usually, in pesticide water monitoring, we have to go and collect sample
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Contact: Blair Fannin
b-fannin@tamu.edu
979-845-2259
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
25-Apr-2005


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