In the U.S., herbicides and pesticides must be analyzed by the Environmental Protection Agency to determine the levels of toxicity within the local environment. These reports are used in laboratories to ensure that dangerous chemicals are left off the shelves and to avoid contamination of sensitive habitats or waterways near gardens and farms.
Herbicide analysis is commonly conducted by the EPA to determine how specific chemicals in products affect the environment where they are used. If concentrations exceed allowable levels, the EPA has the authority to prevent herbicide sales and use throughout the country.
To conduct proper herbicide analyses, researchers must obtain samples from multiple sources. These samples include local plant tissues, animal tissues, soil and water samples gathered from various sources within the same testing area. This helps to avoid a misinterpretation of results through diversity.
There are three major analysis methods EPA researchers use to gather significant data on the toxicity to the environment and the identity of compounds present in an herbicide. These three are gas chromatography, liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry or high-performance liquid chromatography.
Gas chromatography collects data from compounds that can be safely vaporized without decomposition of testing samples. Liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry and high performance liquid chromatography are similar forms of analytic chemistry used to identify materials through the use of a liquid mobile phase.
The results from these chromatography tests determine how the EPA should safely regulate herbicide use. This data is combined with data from tests determining the lethality of herbicide chemicals to various plants and animals. In conjunction, this provides enough evidence for the EPA to justify removing specific products from the market.
Regulating herbicides ensures that environmental damage from chemical pollution is minimized. Constant monitoring of new and established herbicides ensures a safe herbicide market that can be trusted while providing the maximum benefits for gardeners and farmers.