Determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in water by solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry

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Journal Article
Analytica Chimica Acta, 2004, 523 (2), pp. 259 - 267
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A solid-phase microextraction (SPME)-gas chromatography (GC)-mass spectrometry (MS) analytical method for the simultaneous separation and determination of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from aqueous samples has been developed, based on the sorption of target analytes on a selectively sorptive fibre and subsequent desorption of analytes directly into GC-MS. The influence of various parameters on PAH extraction efficiency by SPME was thoroughly studied. Results show that the fibre exposure time and the use of agitation during exposure are critical in enhancing SPME performance. The presence of colloidal organic matter (as simulated by humic acid) in water samples is shown to significantly reduce the extraction efficiency, suggesting that SPME primarily extracts the truly dissolved compounds. This offers the significant advantage of allowing the differentiation between freely available dissolved compounds and those associated with humic material and potentially biologically unavailable. The method showed good linearity up to 10 μg/l. The reproducibility of the measurements expressed as relative standard deviation (R.S.D.) was generally <20%. The method developed was then applied to extract PAHs from sediment porewater samples collected from the Mersey Estuary, UK. Total PAH concentrations in porewater were found to vary between 95 and 742 ng/l with two to four ring PAHs predominating. Results suggest that SPME has the potential to accurately determine the dissolved concentrations of PAHs in sediment porewater. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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