Ameer Taha, PhD – Department of Food Science and Technology

Streamlining pesticide analysis in human breast milk

Pesticides pose a risk to human health, particularly during development, as evidenced by the established correlations between some pesticides and autism spectrum disorder and other developmental anomalies. Although breast milk provides optimum nutrition for infants, it represents a route of exposure to pesticides. Current analytical methods used to probe pesticide levels in human breast milk are expensive and time-consuming due to the large extraction solvent volume requirements (10-40 ml) and the number of steps needed to extract and clean-up samples (5-10 steps).

The aim of this proposal is develop a simple method for quantifying pesticides in dried breast milk spot (DBMS) samples using microwave-assisted extraction as a way to reduce solvent volume requirements to 1 ml and bypass clean-up steps. Pesticides will be quantified using a sensitive liquid-chromatography tandem mass spectrometry system. Establishing a rapid, inexpensive DBMS method will enable routine and accurate monitoring of infant pesticide exposure through breastmilk, to better relate exposure risks to developmental outcomes.