Detection of the organophosphorus nerve agent VX and its hydrolysis products in white mustard plants grown in contaminated soil

Gravett, Matthew R. and Hopkins, Farrha B. and Main, Marcus J. and Self, Adam J. and Timperley, Christopher M. and Webb, Andrew J. and Baker, Matthew J. (2013) Detection of the organophosphorus nerve agent VX and its hydrolysis products in white mustard plants grown in contaminated soil. Analytical Methods, 5 (1). pp. 50-53. ISSN 1759-9660

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Abstract

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) aims to prohibit the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. Verification of compliance or investigations into allegations of use requires accurate detection of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and their breakdown products. Detection of CWAs such as organophosphorus nerve agents in the environment relies mainly upon the analysis of soil. Here we present a novel method for the detection of the nerve agent VX and its hydrolysis products through analysis using a combination of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) of ethanol extracts of contaminated vegetation (white mustard, Sinapis alba), which localised the compounds of interest, and in this study retained them in an extractable form longer than the soil.