Detection and risk assessments of multi-pesticides in 1771 cultivated herbal medicines by LC/MS-MS and GC/MS-MS

Lu Luo, Linlin Dong, Qin Huang, Shuangcheng Ma, Peter Fantke, Jianhui Li, Jingwen Jiang, Martin Fitzgerald, Jane Yang, Zhengwei Jia, Jiqing Zhang, Haifeng Wang, Yuntao Dai, Guangwei Zhu, Zhihan Xing, Yichuan Liang, Mengzhi Li, Guangfei Wei, Jingyuan Song, Jianhe WeiCheng Peng, Han Zhang, Wei Zhang, Shumei Wang, Kaito Mizuno, Alarcon Arauco Gian Marco, Lan Wu, Jiang Xu, Chao Xiong, Shilin Chen

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Focus on the safety of herbal medicines has mainly been directed towards the presence of intrinsic toxicity, as found in the cases of renal and hepatic dysfunction caused by aristolochic acids. However, contamination from extrinsic hazards may impart an even greater reduction in their safety and efficacy. This study reveals that pesticides were present in the majority (88%) of a comprehensive cross-section (n = 1771) of herbal medicine samples. Alarmingly, more than half (59%) contained pesticides over the European Pharmacopoeia (EP) limit, and 43% of them contained 35 varieties of banned, extremely toxic pesticides, eight of which were detected at levels over 500 times higher than the default Maximum Residue Limit (MRL). DDTs, carbofuran, and mevinphos were confirmed as being among the most risk-inducing pesticides by three different risk assessment methods, reported to produce carcinogenic, genotoxic, reproductive, and developmental effects, in addition to carrying nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity. In light of these findings, and withstanding that extrinsic hazards can be controlled unlike intrinsic toxicity, the authors here strongly recommend the application of herbal medicine quality-control measures and solutions to safeguard against a neglected but certainly potentially serious health risk posed to the majority of the global population that consumes herbal medicines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127477
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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