Analysis of Multiple Matrices with a Single Calibration Curve for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) with GC-MS Following the EPA 8270E

New Organic Monitoring Techniques (Session 2)
Oral Presentation

Presented by A. Fornadel
Prepared by A. Ladak
Thermo Scientific, 55, Chapel st, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 8BJ, United Kingdom

Contact Information: [email protected]; +447393145757


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are organic compounds consisting of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Chemically the PAHs are comprised of two or more aromatic rings bonded in linear, cluster, or angular arrangements, resulting in a wide diversity of physical, chemical, and toxicological properties. PAHs are ubiquitous and can contaminate soil, air, sediments, and water and are resistant to environmental degradation. These compounds are found in fossil fuel sources, manmade chemicals and are derived from the incomplete combustion of organic matter used for human activities (such as vehicle emissions, rubber, plastics, and cigarettes). PAHs have toxic effects because of their chemical structure and acts as a carcinogen or endocrine disrupter. Due to their toxicity they are monitored in the environment with strict regulations.1

One of the most common regulations followed for the analysis of PAHs is US EPA 8270E2. Analytical laboratories following this method face several challenges. The first challenge is that isobaric compounds must have sufficient chromatographic resolution, in particular Benzo[b]fluoranthene and Benzo[k]fluoranthene. High boiling compounds, such as Benzo[g,h,i]perylene, also pose a challenge as there is a possibility for carryover and peak broadening3. Careful optimization of instrumental conditions must be done to avoid saturation and linearity loss; labs may also need to separate calibration curves for different matrices, for example soil and water, to ensure they don’t exceed the linear dynamic range of the system.

In this application note, the Thermo Scientific™ single quadrupole GC-MS system was utilized for the simultaneous analysis of PAHs in water and soil samples. For this analysis, a single calibration curve over 4 orders of magnitude was utilized to analyze water and soil samples. An extended run of soil and water matrices were also analysed on the system to demonstrate the robustness for the analysis of PAHs.