Quantification of Aldehydes in Water and Blood by SPME/GC/HRMS as a Method of Detection of Aldehyde Exposure and Disease

Faculty Mentor(s)

Lalith K. Silva
Benjamin Blount
Dr. William Mungall, Hope College

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This research was supported by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Aldehydes are readily found in the environment; formed from the burning of organic matter such as tobacco and lipids such as gasoline, oil, and fats as well as byproducts in the ozonation of water. Exposure to aldehydes is known to have adverse health effects. Aldehydes have also been associated with disease such as breast cancer, lung cancer, and liver disease. The analysis of trace levels of aldehydes in biological matrices is difficult because they are highly reactive, water soluble and volatile. During the summer of 2010, we developed an accurate, solvent free analytical method to detect trace levels (parts-per-trillion) of ten aldehyes in human blood, plasma, and serum: acetaldehyde, acrolein, butanal, isopentanal, pentanal, hexanal, heptanal, furaldehyde, benzaldehyde, and o-tolualdehyde. Analytes were extracted from the headspace of the biological sample, desorbed into a heat injector and resolved using a gas chromatograph. A high-resolution mass spectrometer detected analytes with multiple ion monitoring. Analytes were quantified against a known amount of stable isotope-labeled internal standard. Quantitatively analyzing levels of lipid oxidation byproducts in whole blood, plasma, and serum can be used as an early indicator of oxidative stress and to prevent the progression of disease, particularly lung and liver cancer which are difficult to detect in early stages. Upon returning to the CDC during summer 2011, I will verify results and conclusions in preparation for publication.

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