Color Testing for Steroids

Document Type

Poster Presentation

Publication Date



Steroids are synthetic or naturally occurring compounds that are helpful in the body in a variety of ways. Testosterone and estrogen, which are important endogenous reproductive hormones, can also be used illicitly to enhance performance, often in athletes. Corticosteroids such as cortisone are used to treat inflammations in the body. When used over an extended period of time, cortisone can lead to psychological distress and addiction. Steroids are commonly used illicitly and are often found in criminal or doping investigations where rapid, specific screening methods are valuable. For other illicit drugs, on site color testing is utilized as a rapid screening method. The purpose of this study is to modify and improve a previously reported color test for cortisone for rapid screening and concentration determination of steroids through the use of UV/Visible spectroscopy. The reagent is a solution of sulfuric acid (62% in water) and phenylhydrazine. Following the previously published method, the reagent was added into cortisone solutions prepared in methanol at concentrations ranging from 50 µg/ml to 3.125 µg/ml and heated for 20 minutes in a hot water bath producing a yellow color. The absorbance was measured with the UV/Visible spectrophotometer and a detection limit of 8.74 µg/mL was determined. In addition to replicating this study, reagent to sample volumes were examined to determine the lowest volume necessary to produce the color change and a time study for the stability of the reagent were performed. This improved color test will be applied to a variety of anabolic and cortico steroids to determine the specificity of the test.


Lynn University


Lynn University Student Research Symposium


Poster Presentation


Boca Raton, FL


College of Arts and Sciences


Poster presented at the College of Arts and Sciences Student Symposium, Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL.

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