Glyphosate and AMPA of agricultural soil, surface water, groundwater and sediments in areas prevalent with chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology, Sri Lanka

J Environ Sci Health B. 2018;53(11):729-737. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2018.1480157. Epub 2018 Jun 8.


Glyphosate, which is commercially available as Roundup®, was the widely used herbicide in Sri Lanka until 2015 and is suspected to be one of the causal factors for Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology (CKDu). This research, therefore, aims at studying the presence of glyphosate and Aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in different environmental matrices in CKDu prevalent areas. Topsoil samples from agricultural fields, water samples from nearby shallow wells and lakes, and sediment samples from lakes were collected and analyzed for glyphosate and AMPA using the LC/MS. Glyphosate (270-690 µg/kg) and AMPA (2-8 µg/kg) were detected in all soil samples. Amorphous iron oxides and organic matter content of topsoil showed a strong and a moderate positive linear relationship with glyphosate. The glyphosate and inorganic phosphate levels in topsoil had a strong negative significant linear relationship. Presence of high valence cations such as Fe3+ and Al3+ in topsoil resulted in the formation of glyphosate-metal complexes, thus strong retention of glyphosate in soil. Lower levels of AMPA than the corresponding glyphosate levels in topsoil could be attributed to factors such as the strong adsorption capacity of glyphosate to soil and higher LOQ in the quantification of AMPA. The glyphosate levels of lakes were between 28 to 45 µg/L; no AMPA was detected. While trace levels of glyphosate (1-4 µg/L) were detected in all groundwater samples, AMPA (2-11µg/L) was detected only in four out of nine samples. Glyphosate was detected in all sediment samples (85-1000 µg/kg), and a strong linear relationship with the organic matter content was observed. AMPA was detected (1-15 µg/kg) in seven out of nine sediment samples. It could be inferred that the impact on CKDu by the levels of glyphosate and AMPA detected in the study area is marginal when compared with the MCL of the USEPA (700 µg/L).

Keywords: AMPA; Adsorption; amorphous oxides; desorption; hardness; phosphate.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / analysis
  • Glyphosate
  • Groundwater / analysis
  • Herbicides / analysis
  • Humans
  • Lakes / analysis
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / analysis*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Sri Lanka / epidemiology
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Wells


  • Herbicides
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • 1-aminomethylphosphonic acid
  • Glycine