Non-invasive multiresidue screening methods for the determination of pesticides in heritage collections

Rushworth, Iain David and Higgitt, Catherine and Smith, Margaret and Gibson, Lorraine (2014) Non-invasive multiresidue screening methods for the determination of pesticides in heritage collections. Heritage Science, 2 (Februa). 3. ISSN 2050-7445 (

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This paper describes the development of a novel non-invasive sampling and analysis method that can be used to assess the presence of volatile pesticides on objects held in heritage collections. Vapour phase sampling was conducted using sampling tubes loaded with Tenax-TA™ and trapped analytes were determined using thermal desorption-gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS). The results of this study are presented in a simple ‘decision tree’ diagram to provide the heritage sector with the best methods to identify the presence of pesticides in collections. To illustrate the use of the methodology developed, the results from two case studies in heritage institutions are presented. Attempts were made to measure a range of pesticides, known to have been used in heritage collections, in the vapour phase including aldrin, camphor, chloronaphthalene, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (4,4′-DDT), dichlorvos, dieldrin, endrin, a mixture of α-, β-, γ- and δ-hexachlorocyclohexane (hereafter referred to as HCH), naphthalene, and thymol. Of the analytes included in this study, as expected 4,4′-DDT was not sufficiently volatile to be detected in the vapour phase and swab sampling (using hexane) is recommended for this analyte. After method development and validation, the air inside a display case (Swiss Cottage, Isle of Wight) was sampled. The results gave a positive identification for camphor, chloronaphthalene and naphthalene. In contrast, the air around a ceremonial dance mask from the British Museum was analysed but no volatile pesticides were identified. In this case, liquid chromatographic analysis of swab samples from the mask yielded a positive identification of dichlorvos. The proposed non-invasive sampling methods require sampling of a volume of air around an object. To be detected the pesticide must possess suitable volatility. It was demonstrated that camphor, chloronaphthalene, naphthalene and thymol could be successfully trapped onto Tenax TA™ sorbent tubes and pseudo-quantitatively analysed using TD-GC-MS. Dichlorvos, HCH, aldrin, dieldrin and endrin were also trapped onto Tenax TA™ and qualitatively detected by TD-GC-MS. Although a key objective of the developed methods was non-invasive sampling, the low volatility of 4,4′-DDT precluded it from vapour phase monitoring and hexane swabbing followed by HPLC analysis was required.