A procedure for coating in situ silica gel in prepacked cartridges with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH) acidified with hydrochloric acid is described. The coated cartridge was compared with a validated DNPH impinger method for sampling organic carbonyl compounds (aldehydes and ketones) in diluted automotive exhaust emissions and in ambient air for subsequent analysis of the DNPH derivatives by high performance liquid chromatography. Qualitative and quantitative data are presented that show that the two sampling devices are equivalent. The coated cartridge is ideal for long-term sampling of carbonyls at sub to low parts-per-billion level in ambient air or for short-term sampling of carbonyls at low ppb to parts-per-million level in diluted automotive exhaust emissions. An unknown degradation product of acrolein has been tentatively identified as x-acrolein. The disappearance of acrolein in the analytical sample matrix correlates quantitatively almost on a mole for mole basis with the growth of x-acrolein. The sum of the concentration of acrolein and x-acrolein appears to be invariant with time.