Unsuitability of using the DNPH-coated solid sorbent cartridge for determination of airborne unsaturated carbonyls

Steven Sai Hang Ho, K. F. Ho, W. D. Liu, S. C. Lee, W. T. Dai, J. J. Cao, H. S.S. Ip

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Measurements of aldehydes and ketones are typically conducted by derivatization using sorbent cartridges coated with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH). The collected samples are eluted with acetonitrile and analyzed by high-pressure liquid chromatography coupled with an ultra-violet detector (HPLC/UV). This paper intends to examine artifacts about its suitability in identification of unsaturated carbonyls. Kinetic tests for acrolein, crotonaldehyde, methacrolein and methyl vinyl ketone (MVK) showed formations of carbonyl-DNP-hydrazone during sampling, which could further react with DNPH, resulting in undesired UV absorption products [e.g., carbonyl-DNP-hydrazone-DNPH (dimer) and 2(carbonyl-DNP-hydrazone)-DNPH (trimer)]. The dimerization and trimerization occurred for acrolein and MVK whereas only dimerization for crotonaldehyde and methacrolein. The polymerization products undoubtedly affect the integrity of the chromatogram, leading to misidentification and inaccurate quantification. Whether precautions taken during sampling and/or sample treatment could avoid or minimize this artifact has not been thoughtfully investigated. More often, such artifacts are usually overlooked by scientists when the data are reported.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-265
Number of pages5
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Acrolein
  • Crotonaldehyde
  • DNPH cartridge
  • HPLC
  • Methacrolein
  • Methyl vinyl ketone
  • Unsaturated carbonyls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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