Determination of 4-nonylphenol in water samples using 4-(2,6-dimethylhept-3-yl)phenol as new internal standard

Axel R. Fischer, Nham Thi Phuong Lan, Cornelia Wiedemann, Petra Heide, Peter Werner, Arndt W. Schmidt, Gabriele Theumer, Hans Joachim Knölker

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15 Citations (Scopus)


A new method for determining the endocrine disrupting substance 4-nonylphenol (technical grade=mixture of isomers, 4-NP) from water samples has been developed by using 4-(2,6-dimethylhept-3-yl)phenol (4-sec-NP) as model compound. This branched monoalkylphenol is shown to serve as internal standard (IS) for the determination of technical 4-nonylphenol. To the best of our knowledge, 4-(2,6-dimethylhept-3-yl)phenol (racemic mixture) is a newly synthesized 4-nonylphenol isomer and has not been described elsewhere. Recoveries have been determined by analyzing spiked water samples from distilled water, river water and wastewater. Following acetylation, the compounds were enriched via solid phase extraction (SPE). Analyses of the compounds were performed by capillary column gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), operating in selected ion-monitoring (SIM) mode. The recovery of technical 4-NP using either the newly prepared 4-sec-NP or 4-n-nonylphenol (4-n-NP) as IS have been compared. 4-sec-NP showed slightly better results. However, in the first series of experiments using wastewater, the yields for the derivatization of the two standard compounds were remarkably different. The yield for derivatization of 4-n-NP was approximately 20%, probably due to the difficult matrix of the wastewater. In contrast, the yield for the derivatization of 4-sec-NP was considerably higher (approximately 63%). This problem can be solved by increasing the concentration of the reagent used for derivatization. For better control of the clean-up process, we recommend application of 4-sec-NP as internal standard, at least in water samples with complex matrices (e.g., high content of hydroxylated compounds).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2950-2955
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • Internal standard
  • Nonylphenol isomers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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