Tim Youngblood   |   October 02, 2017

Mass Spectrometrometers Used for Testing Pesticide Density in Cannabis

As medicinal cannabis becomes more sophisticated, so do its testing processes. Here are some mass spectrometers used for testing pesticide density in cannabis samples.
Tim is a technology journalist and was an editor for All About Circuits. His specialty as a historian at Boise State University was cannabis legislation. His favorite things to write and nerd out about are experimental technology, single…

As medicinal cannabis becomes more sophisticated, so do its testing processes. Here are some mass spectrometers used for testing pesticide density in cannabis samples.

Mass spectrometry is a technique for analyzing compounds by ionizing chemical species and sorting the ions based on their mass-to-charge ratio. In simpler terms, a mass spectrometer measures the masses within a sample to determine the density of various particles.

Mass spectrometers have been used for years in order to detect and quantify safe and unsafe levels of pesticides in crops. Food and agriculture have had standards for public health for decades, but health standards for medical cannabis are still in their infancy. The same outfits that have been testing food samples for years are now providing this service for the cannabis industry. The process for testing cannabis is the same as testing food products. 

While the process for testing is the same, acceptable levels of chemical residue and pesticides are much lower for something that is inhaled than for something that is ingested (IE smoking versus eating). Although legal limit has not been set yet, researchers expect the legal limit to be around 10 parts-per-billion. In the next few years, mass spectrometry for pesticide density in cannabis will become a common practice. Below are some mass spectrometers made by Agilent with some explanation of how they work. 

 

Triple Quadrupole GC/MS 7000D

A triple quadrupole mass spectrometer means that the spectrometer consists of two quadrupole mass analyzers in series with an RF quadrupole placed between them that transmits the data measured when molecules collide with its membrane. The GC-MS stands for gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. 

 

 

Triple Quadrupole LC/M 6400

Like the model above, this spectrometer is a triple quadrupole setup. The LC/MS stands for liquid chromatography-mass spectrometer. Basically, the mass spectrometer quantifies the structure of a compound and the liquid chromatographer can isolate certain compounds within the sample.

 

 

Accurate-Mass Quadrupole Q-TOF LC/MS 6500

Like the model above, this is a triple quadrupole liquid chromatography-mass spectrometer. The TOF stands for "time-of-flight", so the Q-TOF means quadrupole time-of-flight. Time-of-flight is a mass spectrometry method where a time measurement is used in order to determine an ion's mass-to-charge-ratio. In this case, the time-of-flight is the amount of time it takes for an ion to travel its path within a spectrometer.

 

 

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