2002 Progress Report: Novel Method for Measurement of Acrolein in Aerosols

EPA Grant Number: R827352C010
Subproject: this is subproject number 010 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R827352
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Southern California Particle Center and Supersite
Center Director: Froines, John R.
Title: Novel Method for Measurement of Acrolein in Aerosols
Investigators: Charles, Judith M.
Institution: University of California - Los Angeles , Michigan State University , University of California - Irvine , University of Southern California
Current Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: June 1, 1999 through May 31, 2005 (Extended to May 31, 2006)
Project Period Covered by this Report: June 1, 2001 through May 31, 2002
RFA: Airborne Particulate Matter (PM) Centers (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Particulate Matter , Air


The objective of this research project is to focus on the central hypothesis of the Southern California Particle Center and Supersite, which is that organic constituents associated with particulate matter (PM)—including quinones, other organic compounds (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs], nitro-PAHs, and aldehydes/ketones), and metals—are capable of generating reactive oxygen species and acting as electrophilic agents. They have a central role in allergic airway disease such as asthma and cardiovascular effects through their ability to generate oxidative stress, inflammation, and immunomodulating effects in the lungs and airways.

The specific objective of this research project is to develop a method that is accurate, precise, and affords a short sampling time to measure acrolein and other carbonyls that either are emitted directly from motor vehicles or are photooxidation products of hydrocarbons in motor vehicle exhaust.

Progress Summary:

The results to date are summarized in Table 1. We have successfully measured the rate of formation constants for the bisulfite adducts of formaldehyde, methylglyoxal, and acrolein using a modification of the p-rosaniline method, a colorimetric assay for SO2.

Table 1. Measured Formation Constants for Formaldehyde, Methylglyoxal, and Acrolein




k' (sec-1)

kf (M-1sec-1)

Time to 90% completion (min.)


5.0 x 10-5

1.7 x 10-4

2.5 x 10-3




5.0 x 10-5

1.7 x 10-3

3.3 x 10-3




1.1 x 10-4

1.7 x 10-3

5.0 x 10-4



The method was validated by the close agreement of our value for the formaldehyde adduct with the literature value. There are no published values for methylglyoxal under the conditions used in our work or for acrolein under any conditions. All of the reactions were greater than 90 percent complete at 10 minutes. We are uncertain regarding the accuracy of the acrolein-bisulfite formation constant because we observed the formation of particles at levels below the aqueous solubility of acrolein, indicating polymer formation.

Future Activities:

We will conduct an experiment to validate the numbers, which determines the formation constant as a function of the acrolein concentration. The data suggest that we will be able to collect acrolein and methyl glyoxal using a mist chamber containing a bisulfite solution at pH = 5.0, and using a sampling time of 10 minutes.

Work on this pilot project is expected to be completed in December 2004. The final results will be available with the submission of the final report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Supplemental Keywords:

Particulate matter, quinones, PAHs, aldehydes, ketones, metals, allergic airway disease, human health risk, asthma, cardiovascular effects, oxidative stress, atmospheric aerosol, environmental monitoring, California, acrolein sampling, carbonyls, motor vehicle emissions, mobile sources,, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Air, HUMAN HEALTH, particulate matter, Environmental Chemistry, Air Pollutants, Risk Assessments, Biochemistry, Health Effects, Atmospheric Sciences, particulates, ambient aerosol, asthma, morphometric analyses, toxicology, quinones, human health effects, airway disease, ambient measurement methods, air pollution, PAH, particulate exposure, human exposure, toxicity, aerosol composition, allergens, particle concentrator, airborne urban contaminants, human health risk, aerosols, atmospheric chemistry, particle transport

Relevant Websites:

http://www.scpcs.ucla.edu/ exit EPA

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 1999
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R827352    Southern California Particle Center and Supersite

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R827352C001 The Chemical Toxicology of Particulate Matter
    R827352C002 Pro-inflammatory and the Pro-oxidative Effects of Diesel Exhaust Particulate in Vivo and in Vitro
    R827352C003 Measurement of the “Effective” Surface Area of Ultrafine and Accumulation Mode PM (Pilot Project)
    R827352C004 Effect of Exposure to Freeways with Heavy Diesel Traffic and Gasoline Traffic on Asthma Mouse Model
    R827352C005 Effects of Exposure to Fine and Ultrafine Concentrated Ambient Particles near a Heavily Trafficked Freeway in Geriatric Rats (Pilot Project)
    R827352C006 Relationship Between Ultrafine Particle Size Distribution and Distance From Highways
    R827352C007 Exposure to Vehicular Pollutants and Respiratory Health
    R827352C008 Traffic Density and Human Reproductive Health
    R827352C009 The Role of Quinones, Aldehydes, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, and other Atmospheric Transformation Products on Chronic Health Effects in Children
    R827352C010 Novel Method for Measurement of Acrolein in Aerosols
    R827352C011 Off-Line Sampling of Exhaled Nitric Oxide in Respiratory Health Surveys
    R827352C012 Controlled Human Exposure Studies with Concentrated PM
    R827352C013 Particle Size Distributions of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the LAB
    R827352C014 Physical and Chemical Characteristics of PM in the LAB (Source Receptor Study)
    R827352C015 Exposure Assessment and Airshed Modeling Applications in Support of SCPC and CHS Projects
    R827352C016 Particle Dosimetry
    R827352C017 Conduct Research and Monitoring That Contributes to a Better Understanding of the Measurement, Sources, Size Distribution, Chemical Composition, Physical State, Spatial and Temporal Variability, and Health Effects of Suspended PM in the Los Angeles Basin (LAB)