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If Formaldehyde is the Question, what is the Answer?

Martin Perkins

31st July 2015

CH2O, DNPH, Formaldehyde, Helium Ionisation Detector, Ray Perkins, Video,


As is the case with many other small, polar molecules, analysing for formaldehyde presents analysts with a real challenge.

If you attempt to analyse for CH2O by GC you quickly find that a flame ionisation detector gives no response, and with a molecular weight of just 30, GC-MS offers no help either; so to analyse this pesky compound by GC at low levels you need something exotic like a helium ionisation detector, which, for low level work is tricky to use.

If that isn’t enough to contend with, formaldehyde can react in the sampling system, injector or column, which means that sometimes when the analysis should work – it just doesn’t.

A common approach is to trap and derivatize gas phase samples on DNPH tubes and analyse the derivatives by LC using a fluorescence detector.

You can get decent results this way, but it is slow and time consuming.

This matters, because formaldehyde is toxic, a known human carcinogen and very useful. We manufacture more than 8.7 million tonnes of formaldehyde per year.

There needs to be a quick and simple way of measuring this stuff.

Follow the link to our latest 2-minute video on a fast and simple way of measuring formaldehyde in air.

If you are as intrigued as we are and would like to give this a go – please contact us by email onenquiries@anatune.co.uk or  call us on +44 (0)1223 279 210.