Public Release: 

Chemists of Lomonosov MSU learned to determine quickly the products of poisonous substance

The researchers of MSU Chemistry Department have patented a speedy method to determine compounds remaining after phosphorus-containing poisons application

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Chemists of Moscow State University learned to determine quickly the products of poisonous substances decomposition

The researchers of MSU Chemistry Department have patented a speedy method to determine compounds remaining after phosphorus-containing poisons application .

Phosphorus-containing compounds are organic molecules which contain the "carbon- phosphorus" chemical bond. The organic compounds of phosphorus are used as insecticides, as medications and as motor oil antioxidants . But some of organophosphorous substances are poisons of neural-paralytic action which may cause death within a few hours upon contact. Once penetrated into a human body, the neural-paralytic poisons block the enzymes responsible for the neural impulse transfer. Due to malfunction of the signal transfer, a body gets paralyzed. Such poisons can penetrate into the body through the skin or being swallowed or inhaled.

Unfortunately, nowadays the search for detection of poisonous agents and the non-toxic products of their decomposition is very actual because it is used to investigate possible chemical weapons application, and also to diagnose the condition of the affected people.

The basic way to determine a concentration of organophosphorous substances and the products of their decomposition is gas chromatography but it requires a sophisticated sample preparation procedure. The faster way is liquid chromatography but hydrophilic ( the ones with good solubility in water) substances like alkylphosphonic acids, are difficult to be determined by means of it because of the weak ability to stay hold within a chromatography column. Since all the alkylphosphonic acids are badly hold on a surface of the sorbent that fills in the column, they pass it through so fast for not to be separated one from another, and up to now this obstacle makes the liquid method of organophosphorous substances determination unavailable. Thus, the more sophisticated and slow method of gas chromatography has to be used.

Research fellows of MSU Chemistry Department under the guidance of Doctor of Science in Chemistry, Professor Grigorij Tsizin have solved the problem of organophosphorous substances liquid separation. They have patented a method of phosphonic acids determination based on the application of a special porous carbon sorbent for liquid chromatography. The scientists have modified the previously created procedure. They suggested to wash the chromatograph column with water before testing and to insert the formic acid together with the sample. This technique allows to hold the metylphosphonic and other acids for longer time in the column, and thus the sensitivity of determination of their concentration increases.

" Our technique is faster than gas chromatography due to cancelation on derivatization ( fn - convertion the substance into the similar and easy-to-determine product) step . For the technique realization the "exotic" fixed base is required - this is a special sorbent which is used not quite often in a daily routine of analytical chemistry labs. However, this sorbent is commercially available and allows to get the excellent results", - one of the patent authors, the senior researcher and Ph.D. in Chemistry Mikhail Statkus advised.

As the scientist told, the research had being made in a contact with the Ministry of Defense Scientific Research Center. The method may be used in future by specialists investigating the incidents with poisoning substances application.


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.