The efficiency of downstream applications depends strongly on the purity of the RNA sample used. Pure RNA should yield an A260/A230 ratio of around 2 or slightly above; however, there is no consensus on the acceptable lower limit of this ratio. Possible candidates that can increase the A230 include “salt”, carbohydrates, peptides, and phenol (or aromatic compounds in general). In our experience, the increased absorbance at 230 nm in RNA samples is almost always due to contamination with guanidine thiocyanate, present at very high concentrations in the lysis buffer or extraction reagent used in most RNA purification procedures.
Please find an article discussing the effect of low 260/230 ratios in RNA preparations on downstream applications on page 7 of QIAGEN Newsletter March 15, 2010 . In summary, we found that concentrations of guanidine thiocyanate of up to 100 mM in an RNA sample do not compromise the reliability of downstream applications.