Massachusetts Pesticide Analysis Laboratory

Laboratory Director, John Marshall Clark, Ph.D.
Morrill I N311A   413-545-1052    Email: jclark [at] vasci [dot] umass [dot] edu


The Massachusetts Pesticide Analysis Laboratory (MPAL) provides analytical services and scientific expertise for the regulation and enforcement of pesticide use in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Pesticide Analysis LaboratoryMPAL operates under a cooperative agreement between the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pesticide Programs (EPA/OPP). Established in 1981, MPAL has been administered and operated through the Department of Entomology, College of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

MPAL is able to analyze most commonly used pesticides including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and in many cases, their metabolites using state-of-the-art liquid and gas chromatographic techniques. Methods are available for common sample matrices such as soil, water, air, and plant material, and can often be adapted for the analysis of pesticides in more unusual matrices. The situation of MPAL at the University of Massachusetts’ Amherst campus provides our analytical staff with immediate access to the most up-to-date methodologies and allows our staff to interact with other chemists, biologists, toxicologists, and scientists with related expertise. MPAL is available for contract work related to land use, historical pesticide use, the monitoring of pesticide fate in active use areas such as golf courses, greenhouses, nurseries, etc. However, if your interest in pesticide analysis is related to a suspected misuse of pesticides please call the Massachusetts Pesticide Bureau at (617) 626-1778 to determine if you have a case for investigation under the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act. Otherwise, please consider the following questions before contacting MPAL.

Pesticide Analysis Questions

1. What pesticides are you looking for and in what kind of a matrix (i.e. soil, water, etc.)?

In general, the cost of the analysis increases with the number of pesticides, if they are known. If the pesticides are unknown it is a much more difficult and expensive proposition. Pesticides screening methods are available for a number of pesticide classes. While a screen can eliminate a significant number of pesticides as a cause for concern, it does not allow for a comprehensive determination that no pesticides are present.

2. Have you consulted MPAL before taking any samples?

Proper sampling is essential in order to provide a meaningful result. Sampling techniques depend on the sample matrix, and also upon what questions are being asked. In some cases, the only concern is whether or not there is a pesticide present. In other cases, more appropriate questions are how much pesticide is there, how persistent is it, will it move, and what kind of an exposure risk does it represent, and how toxic is it to humans?