Colorimetric determination of formaldehyde in air using a hanging drop of chromotropic acid
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A simple and sensitive method to determine parts per billion (ppb) of atmospheric formaldehyde in situ, using chromotropic acid, is described. A colorimetric sensor, coupled to a droplet of 15.5 muL chromotropic acid, was constructed and used to sample and quantify formaldehyde. The sensor was set up with two optical fibers, a right emitting diode (LED) and two photodiodes. The reference and transmitted light were measured by a photodetection arrangement that converts the signals into units of absorbance. Air was sampled around the chromotropic acid droplet. A purple product was formed and measured after the sampling terminated (typically 7 min). The response is proportional to the sampling period, analyte concentration and sample flow rate. The detection limit is similar to2 ppb and can be improved by using longer sampling times and/or a sampling flow rate higher than that used in this work, 200 mL min(-1). The present technique affords a simple, inexpensive near real-time measurement with very little reagent consumption. The method is selective and highly sensitive. This sensor could be used either for outdoor or indoor atmospheres.