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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Brian A. Logue


Although commonly known as a highly toxic chemical, cyanide is also an essential reagent for many industrial processes in areas such as mining, electroplating and synthetic fiber production. The “heavy” use of cyanide in these industries, along with its necessary transportation, increases the possibility of human exposure. Because the onset of cyanide toxicity is fast, a rapid, sensitive, and accurate method for the diagnosis of cyanide exposure is necessary. Therefore, a field sensor for the diagnosis of cyanide exposure was developed based on the reaction of naphthalene dialdehyde, taurine, and cyanide, yielding a fluorescent β-isoindole. An integrated cyanide capture “apparatus”, consisting of sample and cyanide capture chambers, allowed rapid separation of cyanide from blood samples. Rabbit whole blood was added to the sample chamber, acidified and the HCN gas evolved was actively transferred through the stainless steel channel to the capture chamber containing a basic solution of naphthalene dialdehyde (NDA) and taurine. The overall analysis time (including the addition of the sample) was <3 min, the linear range was 3.13-200 μM, and the limit of detection was 0.78 μM. None of the potential interferents investigated (NaHS, NH4OH, NaSCN, and human serum albumin) produced a signal that could be interpreted as a false positive or a false negative for cyanide exposure. Most importantly, the sensor was 100% accurate in diagnosing cyanide poisoning for acutely exposed rabbits. Simultaneous to the development of the stacked cyanide capture apparatus, a sideby- side capture apparatus was developed and a laboratory prototype (the “Cyanalyzer”) was manufactured to allow for more rapid diagnosis of cyanide exposure. The Cyanalyzer was programmed to differentiate between below threshold (display reads “No Exposure”) and above threshold (display flashes “Exposure Detected”) concentrations of cyanide with the threshold for exposure set at 15 μM (i.e., 10 μM is the highest blood concentration reported from cigarette consumption and 10 μM is the blood concentration where first clinical symptoms of cyanide exposure appear). Analysis time for a single sample was <1 min from the time the bubble cartridge (containing the sample) was placed into the instrument and start was pressed. Although the Cyanalyzer design was portable, it was still bulky: measuring 28.5 x 19.5 x 15 cm (l x w x h) taking up ~8300 cm3. Design modifications of peripheral components led to the development of a miniature Cyanalyzer Laboratory Prototype (the Cyanalyzer Mini). The Cyanalyzer Mini measures 19.6 x 13.2 x 9.5 cm (l x w x h) taking up ~2500 cm3, which is ~3x smaller than the Cyanalyzer. The Cyanalyzer Mini yielded cyanide recovery greater than 75%, and an overall analysis time (including the addition of the sample) of <90 s. The linear range was 5-100 μM, and the limit of detection was 0.75 μM for aqueous samples. The Cyanalyzer Mini has the potential to be a life-saving technology and could be the answer to a need for rapid, of suspected on-site diagnosis of cyanide exposure.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Cyanides -- Toxicology


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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