Many of the man-made phenols are best determined using gas chromatography (GC) followed by mass spectrometry (MS). As is true for quantification of other environmental pollutants, analysis of phenols in air, water, soils, or plant or animal tissues requires very careful attention to sample extraction and cleanup. Extraction and cleanup techniques vary depending upon the type of sample, the type of phenolic compound(s) under investigation, and the type of analysis method.
Flavonoids and other classes of naturally occurring plant phenolics increasingly are quantified using reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with amperometric, ultraviolet (UV), photodiode array, or electrochemical detection. Low concentrations of acetic acid, formic acid, or phosphate buffers in the mobile phase can markedly increase separation of flavonoids and other phenolics. UV detection is preferable when phenol concentrations are greater than about 1 ppm.
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