A new simple and highly sensitive spectrophotometric method for determining nitrogen dioxide in air was developed. The method is based on converting atmospheric nitrogen dioxide to nitrite ions within the IVL passive samplers used for samples collection. Acidifying nitrite ions with concentrated HCl produced the peroxynitrous acid oxidizing agent which was measured using 2, 2-azino-bis(3-ethyl benzothiazoline)-6-sulfonic acid-diammonium salt (ABTS) as reducing coloring agent. A parallel series of collected samples were measured for its nitrite content using a validated ion chromatographic method.
The results obtained using both methods were compared in terms of their sensitivity and accuracy. Developed spectrophotometric method was shown to be one order of magnitude higher in sensitivity compared to the ion chromatographic method. Quantitation limits of 0.05 ppm and 0.55 μg/m3 were obtained for nitrite ion and nitrogen dioxid, respectively. Standard deviations in the ranges of 0.05–0.59 and 0.63–7.92 with averages of 0.27 and 3.11 were obtained for determining nitrite and nitrogen dioxide, respectively.
Student-t test revealed t-values less than 6.93 and 4.40 for nitrite ions and nitrogen dioxide, respectively. These values indicated insignificant difference between the averages of the newly developed method and the values obtained by ion chromatography at 95% confidence level.
Compared to continuous monitoring techniques, the newly developed method has shown simple, accurate, sensitive, inexpensive and reliable for long term monitoring of nitrogen dioxide in ambient air.