Identification and Coexposure of Neonicotinoid Insecticides and Their Transformation Products in Retail Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)

Qing Zhang, Yingying Yang, Nanxiu Shang, Yu Xiao, Yilin Xiao, Yanna Liu, Xiaoman Jiang, Edmond Sanganyado, Shaoda Liu*, Xinghui Xia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing evidence that the transformation products of emerging contaminants in foodstuffs may pose a health risk to humans. However, the exact identities, levels, and estimated dietary intake (EDI) of neonicotinoid transformation products in crops remain poorly understood. We established an extended suspect screening strategy to investigate neonicotinoid insecticides and their transformation products in retail cowpea from 11 cities in Hainan Province, China. Forty-nine transformation products were identified in retail cowpea, of which 22-36 were found in 98.6% of the samples. Notably, 31 new transformation products were derived from new processes or a combination of different transformation processes. The mean concentrations of neonicotinoids and nine of the transformation products (with authentic standards) were in the ranges of 0.0824-5.34 and 0.0636-1.50 ng/g, respectively. The cumulative EDIs of the quantified transformation products were lower than those of parent neonicotinoids with the exception of clothianidin desmethyl, which had a ratio of 1157%. However, the coexistence of the other 40 transformation products (without authentic standards) in cowpea suggested that the exposure risk from all of the transformation products might be higher. This study demonstrated that pesticide transformation products should be considered in food chain risk assessments and included in future regulatory management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20182-20193
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number48
Early online date6 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2023

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