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Portable device for on-site testing of pesticides in food samples

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An Omani research team has developed a portable device for detecting pesticides in environmental and food samples. The project by principal investigator Iman al Yahyai (pictured) from Sultan Qaboos University is among the 13 winning projects in the 8th National Research Award organised by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. The project was awarded in the Cultural, Social and Basic Sciences field in the Young Researcher’s category.

For this research project, Iman and her team developed a portable device for on-site testing of pesticides in environmental and food samples by establishing chemiluminescence (CL) system resulting in a multi-emission peaks for selective determination of deltamethrin (DM). This system is based on the enhancing effect of polyphosphate (PP) on graphene quantum dots (GQDs) – potassium permanganate (KMnO4) CL reaction.

She said the magnificence of this work lies in providing a system that has an ability to emit light from more than one emitting species at different wavelengths under the same experimental conditions. Herein, a paper cutting fabrication technique was used to make the simple square shaped lab on a paper device. Several experimental parameters were thoroughly optimised, including the paper size, the order of injecting the analyte and CL reagents and concentration and volumes of reagents.

The requirement of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources to attach a certificate providing the maximum permissible percentage of pesticide content in local and imported foods increased the burden on importers due to the high cost and length of time required to conduct the analysis.

She added that the need for farmers to transport their products over long distances to specialised laboratories can lead to food spoilage in many cases, reducing their profits. Moreover, trying to monitor the food quality, covering the whole fruit and vegetable products, results in a high overload on the government, which means spending a lot of money in providing the required instrumentations and specialist technicians, increasing the analysis cost and the time needed to perform the test.

This research project was conducted by Iman al Yahyai, Dr Haider al Lawati and Dr Javad Hassanzadeh. It was published in Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical journal with an impact factor of 7.460.

Iman said, “It is an absolute honour to receive the National Research Award instituted by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. This award is very much important for me, and a significant milestone in my life to encourage me to devote more efforts, and I hope to continue doing my best in the future. I am tremendously thankful to my supervisor Dr Haider al Lawati for motivating me to continue having the highest level of dedication to accomplish this work in this way.”

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