Nattapon Yodpach a, Rattikan Chantiwas b, Prapin Wilairat c, Nathawut Choengchan a, Wiboon Praditweangkum a,*

a Department of Chemistry, School of Science, King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Bangkok, 10520, Thailand
b Department of Chemistry and Center of Excellence for Innovation in Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Rama VI Rd, Bangkok, 10400, Thailand
c Analytical Sciences and National Doping Test Institute, Mahidol University, Rama VI Rd, Bangkok, 10400, Thailand

* Corresponding author. E-mail address: (W. Praditweangkum).


This work describes the analysis of formaldehyde using a 96-well microplate as multiple headspaces for the separation of sulfur dioxide gas generated from the sulfite remaining after its reaction with the formaldehyde in the sample. The quantitation of the gas is by colorimetric detection of an indicator paper placed over the microplate. The samples are aqueous extracts of various foods that are possibly adulterated with formaldehyde. A known excess amount of sulfite is added to the extract solution aliquoted in the well. The remaining sulfite is acidified with hydrochloric acid to generate sulfur dioxide gas which diffuses through the headspace above the solution to be absorbed at the moist strip of the indicator paper placed over the mouth of the wells. Anthocyanins extracted from the butterfly pea flower is used as the pH indicator giving a color change from the increase of hydrogen ions by hydrolysis of the absorbed sulfur dioxide gas. The exposed paper strip is scanned, and the digital images of the colored region analyzed using ImageJ software. The optimized method has a linear range of 200–1000 mg L-1 formaldehyde with limit of detection ((2.57*SD of intercept)/(slope of calibration line)) of the aqueous extract of 40 mg L-1 and coefficient of determination (r2 ) > 0.9979. Samples of fresh produce, such as seafood, meat, and vegetables, and various processed food were analyzed for their possible formaldehyde con tent. The results obtained from the headspace paper-based colorimetric detection are not statistically different from the values obtained from the titration method by paired t-tests.


N. Yodpach, R. Chantiwas, P. Wilairat, N. Choengchan, W. Praditweangkum, Multi-well plate as headspaces for paper-based colorimetric detection of sulfur dioxide gas: An alternative method of sulfite titration for determination of formaldehyde, Analytica Chimica Acta 1239 (2023) 340704. doi:10.1016/j.aca.2022.340704