The organophosphate (OP) and carbamate (CB) pesticides that are widely used in agriculture sector can give neurotoxic effects on developing organisms, even from low levels of exposure, by inacticating the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) enzyme which is essential to nerve functions in insects, humans and animals. Prolonged intake of these pesticides pose numerous problems to human. Therefore, continuous monitoring of the pesticide residues in vegetables before marketing is important to fulfil consumers' demand for safe food. However, the existing method practised by monitoring and regulatory agencies in the country is time consuming, expensive and highly technical.
A new material based on encapsulation of the enzyme in silica matrices was developed for rapid screening of OP and CB pesticide residues in vegetables. In the presence of pesticide residues, the AChE is partially or completely inhibited; this causes the development of yellow colour to slow down or stop. This colour indicates whether the residue exceeds the threshold level or not.
The entrapped enzyme is stable in the sol-gel matrix for 6 months when stored at 4°C and the assay is very rapid and it takes only around 30 minutes from sampling to completion of test.
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