Background: Given the importance of highly reactive oxygen species (hROS) as reactants in a wide range of biological, photochemical, and environmental systems there is an interest in detection and quantification of these species. The extreme reactivity of the hROS, which includes hydroxyl radicals, presents an analytical challenge. 3′-(p-Aminophenyl) fluorescein (APF) is a relatively new probe used for measuring hROS. Here, we further evaluate the use of APF as a method for the detection of hydroxyl radicals in particle suspensions. Results: Particle-generated hROS can be quantified with an estimated detection limit of 50 nM. Measurements of hROS in two National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST 2709 and 2710) soil suspensions and a pyrite suspension show non-linear particle dose-response curves for hROS generation. APF can also be used in solutions containing no dissolved molecular oxygen (O2) to determine the role of O2 in the formation of hROS. Results confirm that O2 is mechanistically important in the formation of hROS by dissolved ferrous iron and in pyrite suspensions. Conclusion: Given the non-linear dose-response curves for particle generation of hROS, we recommend using several particle loadings in experiments aimed to compare particles for their hROS generation potential. The method presented here is specific to hROS and simple to perform. The analysis can be conducted in mobile labs as only basic laboratory equipment is required. © 2009 Cohn et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
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