Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


Agrochemical Pesticide Webinar

11 May 2022, 3:00 pm–4:30 pm

Man in a lab

Register today and join UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering researchers and LGC's Dr Ehrenstorfer for a fascinating symposium and panel discussion linked to agrochemicals and how LGC's reference materials supported this.

This event is free.

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Department of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering

The threat of counterfeit and substandard agrochemicals is a neglected area with the potential for widespread negative impacts in terms of public health, the environment and the economy.

Recent estimates suggest that trade in illegal pesticides comprise more than 10% of the EU market. The use of pesticides has roughly doubled over the past 25 years and this rapid growth has increased the opportunity for criminal exploitation. A key element to preventing this trade is to inhibit substandard products being moved between countries.

Current border checks rely on intelligence sharing with neighbouring countries and scrutiny of transport paperwork. Presently, there is no rapid test that can be used to validate a product at the same time. Suspect chemicals are impounded, and samples are taken for off-site analysis, the result of which may take days or weeks to be returned. There is a need for a rapid on-site screening tool that can be deployed at borders as well as being used by regulators and wholesalers to ensure trade is only in genuine products.

UCL MPBE has undertaken a technology study, in collaboration with LGC’s Dr Ehrenstorfer, where real and counterfeit agrochemicals have been subjected to different measurement techniques. The aim was to identify an exploitable signature – a fingerprint – which could be used to differentiate genuine products. ISO 17034 reference materials provided by LGC’s Dr Ehrenstorfer supported the delivery of accurate and robust interpretations.

The focus was on technologies that could 1) return a material-specific fingerprint quickly, 2) work through a container and/or not require any special sample preparation and 3) be miniaturised/simplified for field deployment .

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Meet the UCL MPBE experts

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Professor Robert Speller

Emeritus Professor of Medical Physics

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Dr Rob Moss


Profile picture of Jia Chuan Khong

Dr Jia Chuan Khong

Research Associate