Pesticides have revolutionized the modern day of agriculture and substantially reduced crop losses. Synthetic pesticides pose a potential risk to the ecosystem and to the non-target organisms due to their persistency and bioaccumulation in the environment. In recent years, a light-mediated advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) has been adopted to resolve pesticide residue issues in the field. Among the current available semiconductors, titanium dioxide (TiO2) is one of the most promising photocatalysts. In this study, we investigated the photocatalytic degradation of profenofos and triazophos residues in Chinese cabbage, Brassica chinensis, using a Cerium-doped nano semiconductor TiO2 (TiO2/Ce) under the field conditions. The results showed that the degradation efficiency of these organophosphate pesticides in B. chinensis was significantly enhanced in the presence of TiO2/Ce. Specifically, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) contents were significantly increased in B. chinensis with TiO2/Ce treatment, accelerating the degradation of profenofos and triazophos. Ultra-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectroscopy (UPLC-MS) analysis detected 4-bromo-2-chlorophenol and 1-phenyl-3-hydroxy-1,2,4-triazole, the major photodegradation byproducts of profenofos and triazophos, respectively. To better understand the relationship between photodegradation and the molecular structure of these organophosphate pesticides, we investigated the spatial configuration, the bond length and Mulliken atomic charge using quantum chemistry. Ab initio analysis suggests that the bonds connected by P atom of profenofos/triazophos are the initiation cleavage site for photocatalytic degradation in B. chinensis.

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Published in Catalysts, v. 9, issue 3, 294, p. 1-12.

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 31672043 and 21003042), the Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province (grant number 2018JJ2165), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project (grant number 2015M582329), and China Scholarship Council (grant number 201608430210).