Analysis of Pesticide Residues on Fruit Using Swab Spray Ionization Mass Spectrometry

Molecules. 2023 Sep 14;28(18):6611. doi: 10.3390/molecules28186611.


The vast quantity and high variety of pesticides globally used in agriculture entails considerable risks for the environment and requires ensuring the safety of food products. Therefore, powerful analytical tools are needed to acquire qualitative and quantitative data for monitoring pesticide residues. The development of ambient ionization mass spectrometry methods in the past two decades has demonstrated numerous ways to generate ions under atmospheric conditions and simultaneously to reduce the need for extended sample preparation and circumvent chromatographic separation prior to mass analysis. Swab spray ionization enables the generation of ions directly from swabs via the application of high voltage and solvent flow. In this study, swab sampling of fruit surfaces and subsequent ionization directly from the swab in a modified electrospray ion source was employed for the screening and quantitation of pesticide residues. Aspects regarding sample collection, sampling efficacy on different surfaces, and swab background are discussed. The effect of solvent composition on pesticide-sodium adduct formation and the suppression of ionization by the background matrix have been investigated. Furthermore, a novel approach for the quantitation of pesticide residues based on depletion curve areas is presented. It is demonstrated that swab spray ionization is an effective and quick method for spectral library-based identification and the quantitative analysis of polar contact pesticide residues on food.

Keywords: ambient ionization; mass spectrometry; pesticide analysis; quantitation; swab spray ionization.

MeSH terms

  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Pesticide Residues* / analysis
  • Pesticides* / analysis
  • Solvents / analysis
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods


  • Pesticide Residues
  • Pesticides
  • Solvents

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.