Dionex Corporation Home

PAHs and BNAs

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) occur naturally in fossil fuel products (e.g., coal and oil), and are among the effluents of combustion processes commonly used for heating, incineration, and electric power generation. PAHs are classified as carcinogenic compounds and consequently are monitored worldwide in a wide range of environmental matrices, including drinking water, waste water, furnace emissions, soil, and hazardous waste extracts. Monitoring of PAHs is required under U.S. EPA Method 8330.

Methods for the determination of PAHs in the environment include GC/FID and HPLC with ultraviolet or fluorescence detection. While GC/FID is the more sensitive technique, it is subject to background interference from other carbonaceous sources. HPLC is the preferred method of analysis, because it provides the necessary sensitivity along with higher specificity. Application Note (AN) 213 is an extension of AN 196 for determination of PAHs in edible oils, such as olive oil. In AN 196, a donor-acceptor complex chromatography (DACC) column was required for sample preparation. Because tap water is more aqueous than olive oil, a 4 x 50 mm Acclaim® PA2 column can be used for sample preparation. The PA2 is ideal for this application because it is compatible with 100% aqueous solutions like tap water. This method can be used to determine the 16 PAHs named in the U.S. EPA Priority Pollutants list, and is another example of automated online sample preparation with the UltiMate 3000. The UltiMate 3000 and Chromeleon® have built-in features that facilitate the easy setup and execution of 2-D applications such as online sample preparation. AN213 shows how to configure and run an online sample preparation applications, and should be of interest to environmental labs and anyone interested in determination of PAHs.