LC-MS-MS

In this article we will discuss one of the two methods we use to measure residues of solvents and pesticides, LC-MS-MS. It is advised to first read about HPLC-MS before starting with this article. The basics of LC-MS-MS are equivalent to those of HPLC-MS. Then, in this article we will explain about  the additional value of LC-MS-MS for the profiling of pesticides and residues of solvents.

Elsewhere on this website you will also find an article about the other method we use to profile pesticides and solvent residues, GC-MS-MS.

 

What is LC-MS-MS?

The LC in LC-MS-MS, stands for liquid chromatography. We are using a variant of this technique for the  profiling of (HPLC-MS) of active ingredients in plants and herbs as well. Elsewhere on this website you will find the explanation of this method. The HP part in the abbreviation LC-MS-MS is omitted, but in fact it does make use of high pressure (HP) to do its work. The main difference between HPLC-MS and LC-MS-MS is that a more extensive mass spectrometer is used in LC-MS-MS. The MS which is used in LC-MS-MS is called a triple quadruple MS. This spectrometer consists of three parts. In the first part a selection of molecules is already made. By doing this a lot of molecules that we are not looking for can already be “filtered out” from the sample. In technical terms we call this an improvement in the signal/noise ratio. Subsequently, the molecules are bombarded with electrically-charged particles in the next part of the detector (exactly as we have already described in our explanation of HPLC-MS). Then finally, in the third part of the detector, the molecules are definitively measured. Because we already made a selection of molecules earlier in the process a much clearer picture of the different components is realized.

 

What does LC-MS-MS bring us?

With LC-MS-MS we can detect a large amount of pesticides and components of pesticides (several hundreds). In addition to the identification of these components,        we can also determine in what quantity they are present, even if these numbers are very low. The same applies to residues of solvents.

For the profiling of some other pesticides GC-MS-MS works better. That’s why we use both methods.

After performing GC-MS-MS and LC-MS-MS you know which pesticides and solvents are present in your product. This allows you to check whether your product is clean and safe enough for consumption. Also read our article about GC-MS-MS.

 

By clicking the link below you’ll be able to see a list of all pesticides we can test your sample on.

List of pesticides

GC-MS-MS

In this article we discuss one of the two methods that we use to measure residues of solvents and pesticides with, GC-MS-MS. First we discuss which types of gas chromatography there are, what GC-MS-MS is, how it differs from GC-MS and what it brings us. Elsewhere on this website you will find an article in which we discuss the second method, LC-MS-MS.

 

What types of gas chromatography are there?

There are several variants of gas chromatography (GC) and each of them calls for a quite extensive explanation. Very briefly, these are the four best-known methods of gas chromatography:

 

GC:

The most simple form of gas chromatography without a mass spectrometer (MS)

GC-MS:

Gas chromatography that uses a mass spectrometer (MS)

GC-MS-MS:

Also called triple quad GC, which uses a more extensive mass spectrometer (MS)

GC-Q-TOF: 

The time it takes the electrically charged particles to reach the detector is used to profile constituents. TOF stands for Time-of-flight.

 

At New Agro Research we are using GC-MS-MS. We can best explain how GC-MS-MS works by first explaning how GC-MS works. After that, we’ll tell you how GC-MS-MS differs from GC-MS and why this technique is best suited for the kind of research that we do.

 

How does GC-MS work?

GC is a method that is similar to HPLC in many respects, with the most important difference being that in GC a carrier gas is used instead of an eluent. In addition to this we of course need a sample of the product that we want to test for solvents and pesticides.

To start off the sample is vaporized and added to the carrier gas. Subsequently, this gas is led to a very thin column. This column has an inner coating that slows down the molecules. However, one molecule will get slowed down more than the other. As a result, the different molecules will not pass trough the column all at the same time, but apart from one another instead. The time it takes for a molecule to pass through the column is called the retention time (RT).

After the molecules have passed trough the column they enter a detector where they are bombarded with electrically charged particles (ions). As a result of this bombardment, the molecules will fall apart into fragments. The mass of these fragments is measured by the detector. Since the masses of the fragments in which a molecule falls apart are always the same, we can identify the molecule (and thus the component) by looking at the masses of its fragments. Finally, the detector sends its data to a computer which processes the data into a graph, called a chromatogram.

 

How does GC-MS-MS work?

For the biggest part, the principle of GC-MS-MS is the same as that of GC-MS, with the main difference being that a more extensive mass spectrometer (MS) is used in GC-MS-MS. As a result there is a big improvement in the accuracy of the measurements. The MS which is used in GC-MS-MS is called a triple quadrupole MS. This spectrometer consists of three parts. In the first part a selection of molecules is already made. By doing this a lot of molecules that we are not looking for can already be “filtered out” from the sample. In technical terms we call this an improvement in the signal/noise ratio. Subsequently, the molecules are bombarded with electrically-charged particles in the next part of the detector (exactly as we have already described in our explanation of GC-MS). Then finally, in the third part of the detector, the molecules are definitively measured. Because we already made a selection of molecules earlier in the process a much clearer picture of the different components is realized.

 

What does GC-MS-MS bring us?

With GC-MS-MS we can detect a large amount of pesticides and components of pesticides (several hundreds). In addition to the identification of these components, we can also determine in what quantity they are present, even if these numbers are very low. The same applies to residues of solvents.

For the profiling of some other pesticides LC-MS-MS works better. That’s why we use both methods.

After performing GC-MS-MS and LC-MS-MS you know which pesticides and solvents are present in your product. This allows you to check whether your product is clean and safe enough for consumption. Also read our article about LC-MS-MS.

 

 

Contact Us

New Agro Research strives for a maximum of transparency. We do this in the first place by providing you with much needed information on the contence of your product. In addition to this, this website contains information on what we do, what techniques we use and what you can expect from us. If our website doesn’t fully answer your questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Fill out the form below and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Safe use of plants and herbs

Safety of plants and herbs can be an important reason to have your product tested by New Agro Research. Even if you think you know a plant or herb is safe of itself, this doesn’t mean that there are no risks associated with its use. This is because these risks may not lie in the product itself but rather in the way it is grown or processed. Plants are often grown using pesticides and sometimes even grown on  contaminated soil. In addition to that solvents are often needed to produce an extract of a plant or herb. When a residue of such a solvent is part of your product this may have serious health risks. It’s often hard if not impossible to find out how a product that you bought has been produced.  Below we discuss some potential contaminants of plants and herbs. We can test your product for all these contaminants.

 

Pesticides

Pesticides are used to protect crops against all kinds of diseases, pests and weeds. Lots of crops, like fruits and vegetables are grown usings pesticides. There are legal standards indicating how high the concentration of pesticides may be in food*. Still, there are many people who are concerned about the presence of pesticides in the products they use.   Some pesticides and combinations of pesticides are associated with health risks, even though it is often difficult to scientifically prove these associations. That being said, possible connections between exposure to pesticides and varying diseases that emerge from scientific literature are: childhood leukemia, brain cancer in adults, asthma, Parkinson’s disease and problems in mental development. For this reason, people in general are increasingly opting for (organic) products that are produced without or with a minimal amount of pesticides.

 

* These legal standards are set for many common foods. For certain herbs and plants however, these legal standards do not excist. When you buy these herbs or plants (in an extract of in crude form) it is often impossible to determine if there are not too many pesticides used in the production of these products.

 

Heavy metals

The soil on which plants and herbs are grown of course affects the quality of the final product as well. When the soil contains high concentrations of heavy metals, these metals can be detected in the plants and herbs grown on it. Heavy metals are, for example: lead, copper, zinc, and mercury. The ingestion of these metals may have health risks, especially for patients who are already vulnerable.

 

Solvents

Increasingly, plants and herbs are consumed in the form of oil. Solvents are used to produce oil from plants and herbs. Solvents are often substances like benzene, isopropyl, butane and hexane. In general, when this process is carried out properly the result will not cause any problems. However, there is always a risk that the final product still contains a residue of the solvent. The consumption of solvents may have health risks. Short term effects may be headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, illness, seizures and even death. Long term exposure to solvents is often associated with cancer, a clear relationship has been established between exposure to benzene and getting leukemia.

Active ingredients in plants and herbs

Plants and herbs have been used therapeutically for thousands of years. Sometimes people use plants and herbs in their crude form, for example by smoking or vaporizing them. In addition to that, extracts of plants and herbs are made, often with oil products as a result, that are usually ingested orally. Constituents of plants and herbs can also be synthesized (recreated in a laboratory) to produce medication. In short, the use of plants and herbs for therapeutic purposes is not something that was only done in the past or only in certain subcultures. Furthermore, there is now much more scientific literature available that supports the therapeutic uses of plants and herbs than there used to be.

 

Active ingredients and science

The complexity of some plants and herbs make them difficult objects to study scientifically. Researchers would like to attribute the effectiveness of a (future) drug to one or two active ingredients. When plants and herbs are studied as a whole, this is often impossible, because they contain hundreds of active ingredients. Furthermore, to make things even more complex, these ingredients appear to influence each others activity and effects, often in both directions. Thus, scientists usually choose to investigate the effect of a single ingredient per study, or at most a combination of two ingredients. On the other side, people who have experience with the therapeutic use of these products often think that whole plant extracts (ie, containing a whole range of active ingredients) work better than a single isolated substance. In practice, this means that science can give us indications about which ingredients are effective, but at the same time that consumers themselves have to find their own ideal composition.

 

The ideal composition

The most effective composition of a plant, extract or oil is dependent on several factors. Of course there are individual differences, but also the condition for which a product is used is an important factor. Getting in touch with other consumers can provide much information, but ultimately it is also a matter of experimenting until you find a composition that is effective for you.

 

What can New Agro Research do for you?

We want to help our customers by providing them with essential and much needed information. When you found yourself a plant, herb (or extract theroff) that gives you the desired effect, it can be very helpful to know what the composition of this strain or oil is, for example for future use. But also when you already know what composition you need and you want to check whether your product qualifies, we can be of great help. Finally, the outcome of our testing may give incentive to alter the compostion of your product by diluting it or mixing it with other products.

How do we test for pesticides and solvents?

NB: The information on this page is no longer completely accurate. Curently we only use GC-MS both for pesticides and residues of solvents. For this reason, we can’t check your sample for every possible pesticide, although we do analyze your sample on a very broad selection of pesticides. The content of this page will be updated later.  

 

The two methods that we use to measure pesticides and residues of solvents are GC-MS-MS and LC-MS-MS. With these techniques we can very precisely determine the concentrations of these contaminants, even if they are only present in very small concentrations. We’ve decided to discuss GC-MS-MS and LC-MS-MS in separate articles, after reading these articles you will know how these methods works in practice and what information they provide us with.

 

What is chromatography?

Chromatography is a separation technique in which mixtures of substances are separated into their respective components. There are various types of chromatography, including gas chromatography, paper chromatography, and thin layer chromatography. The technique we choose depends on what we are trying to find out. For the identification of pesticides and residues of solvents a combination of GC-MS-MS and LC-MS-MS is superior. The results of chromatography are displayed in a chromatogram, a visual representation of the research. This chromatogram is similar to a simple graph. The peaks and patterns are indications for the presence of various components (in this case, pesticides and solvents).

 

Why GC-MS-MS and LC-MS-MS?

Why do we use two different kinds of chromatography for the measurement of pesticides and solvents, rather than simply relying on one of the two? If we only had to test for residues of solvents one of these two methods would indeed be sufficient. It’s the testing for pesticides that requires both these methods. There are many hundreds of pesticides which can be measured in a sample. Some of these pesticides are more easily found by GC-MS-MS, others better with LC-MS-MS. Because we want to offer our customers a complete picture of all possible contaminants, we use both techniques and combine the results.

 

Read the article on GC-MS-MS

 

Read the article on LC-MS-MS

 

Check out the list of pesticides that we can test your sample on: List of pesticides

 

NB: The information on this page is no longer completely accurate. Curently we only use GC-MS both for pesticides and residues of solvents. For this reason, we can’t check your sample for every possible pesticide, although we do analyze your sample on a very broad selection of pesticides. The content of this page will be updated later.  

How do we test for heavy metals?

NB: Currently, we can’t perform analyses on heavy metals. We hope to have this service available again in the future.

 

The method we use for finding heavy metals in a sample is called ICP-MS, which stands for Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry. In this article you will learn more about how ICP-MS works, what information it provides us with and why we are using ICP-MS for the identification of heavy metals.

 

What is chromatography?

Chromatography is a separation technique in which mixtures of substances are separated into their respective components. There are various types of chromatography, including gas chromatography, paper chromatography, and thin layer chromatography. The technique we choose depends on what we are trying to find out. For the identification of heavy metals ICP(-MS) is superior. The results of chromatography are displayed in a chromatogram, a visual representation of the research. This chromatogram is similar to a simple graph. The peaks and patterns are indications for the presence of various components (in this case, heavy metals).

 

How does ICP-MS work?

In order to be able to profile heavy metals, we must isolate these metal particles from the sample . We use Argon to do so. Argon is a so-called inert gas, which means that it won’t have a chemical interaction with the sample. The argon is heated to a temperature of about 5000 degrees. Due to this high temperature the argon takes on the form of plasma. Plasma is the fourth form in which matter expresses itself (in addition to solid, liquid and gas). In the next step the sample is introduced into the plasma. Because of the heath the sample will fall apart into the individual atoms that is consists of. After that, these atoms will be ionized (which means they are given an electrical charge). Finally, these ionized atoms will pass the MS (mass spectrometer) in which they are identified by their mass, which is unique for each atom. Using the MS we can also determine the concentration of each atom and thus of each heavy metal.

 

What does ICP-MS bring us?

ICP-MS gives us a very complete picture of the heavy metals that are part of a particular sample. It can also be used to determine the concentrations of these metals very precisely, even in extremely low concentrations.

 

NB: Currently, we can’t perform analyses on heavy metals. We hope to have this service available again in the future.

How do we profile active ingredients?

The method we use to profile active ingredients in a sample is called high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). We combine HPLC with mass spectrometry (MS) in order to be able to determine each concentration very precisely. In this article you will learn more about how HPLC-MS works, what information it provides us with and why we prefer HPLC-MS over other methods of chromatography.

 

What is chromatography?

Chromatography is a separation technique in which mixtures of substances are separated into their respective components. There are various types of chromatography, including gas chromatography, paper chromatography, and thin layer chromatography. The technique we choose depends on what we are trying to find out. For the profiling of active ingredients HPLC is superior, because it is very precise. The results of chromatography are displayed in a chromatogram, a visual representation of the profiling. This chromatogram is similar to a simple graph. The peaks and patterns are indications for the presence of various components (in this case, active ingredients).

 

How does HPLC (-MS) work?

HPLC-MS is carried out with a highly advanced device that, among other things, consists of an injector, a column and a detector (the mass spectrometer, or MS for short). Using the injector, the sample is brought into the device. In addition, a solution of various liquids, the so-called eluent (also referred to as the mobile phase) is pumped through the device under very high pressure. This eluent ensures that the sample can move through the column. We change the composition of the eluent during the process, which we refer to as changing the gradient. By changing the gradient we can effecuate a first separation of components. Then, the various components are guided through a (very thin) metal column which slows down the components. This process ensures that the components do not exit the column all at once, but at different moments in time. After the components exit the column, they move into the detector where they are bombarded with electrically-charged particles (ions). As a result of this bombing the components break down into pieces, which are called fragments. The mass spectrometer then measures the masses of these fragments. Because components always break down in the same fragments we can identify these components  by looking at the masses of its fragments (which are observed using the mass spectrometer). The collected information is then sent to a computer that processes this information into a graph. We call this graph the chromatogram. By analyzing the chromatogram (among other things) we are able to tell what active ingredients are present in a sample and in what concentrations.

 

What does HPLC-MS bring us?

HPLC-MS is a technique with a very high resolution, which means that also components that are very similar can be well-separated from each other. When HPLC-MS is used for the profiling of active ingredients in plants and herbs this will give a very precise and reliable result. So when you need to know exactly which active ingredients are in your product, HPLC-MS is the way to go. Using the acquired information you can determine whether your product is suitable for the purpose you have in mind. It also helps you in determining the proper dosage.

 

Why HPLC-MS?

In addition to HPLC-MS, there are other methods for the profiling of active ingredients. Other laboratories sometimes use gas chromatography (GC). GC is a cheaper method, partly because it requires less sophisticated equipment. The principle of GC is very similar to that of HPLC, the main difference being that instead of a liquid, a carrier gas is used. GC is less precise than HPLC-MS for the profiling of active ingredients. Distinguishing between two substances that are very much alike is not possible with GC, while this is possible with HPLC-MS. In addition to this, the use of GC poses yet another problem. Because the sample is heated, reactions may occur that alter the composition of the sample. This may cause a component to change into another component when it is heated. Consequently the results no longer reflect the composition of the original sample . Although it is possible to do corrections on the gathered data, the end result is much less accurate than it is when HPLC-MS is used.

Combination of techniques

At New Agro Research we are able to profile your product with the utmost precision on active ingredients, pesticides, heavy metals and residues of solvents. To do this, we make use of various methods of chromatography. For example, we use HPLC-MS for the profiling of active ingredients, ICP-MS for heavy metals and GC-MS-MS and LC-MS-MS for pesticides and residues of solvents. In each of these cases, we have chosen the method that yields the most accurate results for the ingredient that is tested. In this section, we explain each of these methods extensively.

 

Active ingredients:

HPLC-MS

Heavy metals:

ICP-MS

Pesticides and residues of solvents

GC-MS-MS and LC-MS-MS

Sending in your sample

Sending in an extract

We can test all your extracts (for instance in oil form) on ingredients. We can do this for home made extracts as well as for extracts you bought on the internet. In order to test your extract, we need a sample of 2 milliliters.

When you make a request to have your product tested, we promptly sent you the material that enables you to prepare your sample. In this package you will find a tube with a mark on it. Fill the tube to the mark and put the tube in the ziplock bag which Is also included. You can then send the ziplock bag with your sample to New Agro Research using the enclosed bubble envelope.

Within two weeks after we’ve received your sample you can view your report with results and chromatogram in your personalized account on New Agro Research. You will receive an email notification when your report is available.

 

Sending in plant material

We can profile ingredients in any kind of plant or herb. In order to research plant material  we need a 1 gram sample.

When you make a request to have your plant material tested, we promptly sent you the material that enables you to prepare your sample. Simply put your sample in the enclosed ziplock bag. You can then send the ziplock bag with your sample to New Agro Research using the enclosed bubble envelope.

Within two weeks after we’ve received your sample you can view your report with results and chromatogram in your personalized account on New Agro Research. You will receive an email notification when your report is available.

 

Sending us Your sample

We ask you kindly to send the order form underneath along with your sample (preferably in digital form). Mind that the form doesn’t save to our website. Please save the order form to your own computer and attach it to an email addressed to info@newagroresarch.nl. If you prefer so, you can also print the order form and sent it along with your sample. Be sure to fill out the form before you print it though, the order form will automatically calculate the price of your product excluding VAT and the VAT itself. You can also use the order form to see what the price is of the analysis that you want to purchase. Of course, filling out this form does not oblige you to purchase.

order form

 

Please use the address underneath when you send us your sample.

New Agro Research
c/o Noorddijk 3
2391 CE, Hazerswoude-Dorp

Please use the email address underneath for sending in your order form digitally.

info@newagroresearch.nl

 

Payment

You can pay us by bank transfer. Please transfer the total of your order to NL64 ABNA 0563 8714 66, in the name of New Agro Research BV. In the description you can simply write “Analysis”. The cost of the complete cannabinoid analysis we currently offer is 90 euros (including VAT).