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  5. Detection of Phenol in Water and Air Using

Phenol is an aromatic organic compound. It is both a manufactured chemical and a natural substance. It is a white crystalline solid that is volatile. Phenol is produced today on a large scale, about 7 billion kg/year from petroleum. It is an important industrial commodity and acts as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds. It is most commonly used to synthesize plastics and related materials. Phenol and its chemical derivatives play an essential part in the production of polycarbonates, epoxies, Bakelite, nylon, detergents, herbicides and numerous pharmaceutical drugs.

It was most commonly used as an antiseptic, from the early 1900s to the 1970s. It is also a versatile precursor to a large collection of drugs, commonly aspirin but also many herbicides. Phenol is also used as an oral anesthetic/analgesic products. Phenol can have adverse effects on the health of human and animals alike. Its vapors are corrosive to the eyes, the skin, and the respiratory tract. The toxic effect of phenol on the central nervous system causes sudden collapse and loss of consciousness.

Exposure to phenol by any route can produce systemic poisoning. It is corrosive and can cause chemical burns. Phenol denatures proteins and acts as a protoplasmic poison. Mild exposure may cause upper respiratory tract irritation. It becomes imperative to detect phenol in both water and air.

Conventional eNoses do not have specific chemical sensors. Also, they cannot separate or quantify the chemistry of aromas. Based on an ultra-fast gas chromatography, a new type of electronic nose called zNose®, is able to simulate unlimited numbers of specific virtual chemical sensors, and produce olfactory images based upon aroma chemistry.

Detecting phenol in air and water is fast and easy using the zNose® electronic nose or portable gas chromatograph. Because phenol is a relatively volatile and soluble in air, it shows low Henry’s constant at room temperature. Only 0.00136% will partition into the air from water as headspace vapor.  However, water headspace measurements are best performed with samples elevated to at least 40oC. Using a 2nd stage pre-concentrator accessory sampling, sampling headspace vapors with the zNose® can reach minimum detectable levels of 10 ppb phenol in water.

zNose® can perform analytical measurements of volatile organic vapors and odors in near real time with part-per-trillion sensitivity precision. Separation and quantification of the chemicals within an odor is performed in seconds. Picogram sensitivity, universal non-polar selectivity, and electronically variable sensitivity is achieved via using a patented solid-state mass-sensitive detector. Integrated vapor pre-concentrator along with electronically variable detector allows zNose® to measure vapor concentrations spanning 6+ orders of magnitude.

To know more about detecting the presence of phenol in air and water or any other chemical compound, please visit our chemical solutions page.


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