, Volume 386, Issue 4, pp 769-789,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 20 Sep 2006

Analytical methods for PCBs and organochlorine pesticides in environmental monitoring and surveillance: a critical appraisal

Abstract

Analytical methods for the analysis of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) are widely available and are the result of a vast amount of environmental analytical method development and research on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) over the past 30–40 years. This review summarizes procedures and examines new approaches for extraction, isolation, identification and quantification of individual congeners/isomers of the PCBs and OCPs. Critical to the successful application of this methodology is the collection, preparation, and storage of samples, as well as specific quality control and reporting criteria, and therefore these are also discussed. With the signing of the Stockholm convention on POPs and the development of global monitoring programs, there is an increased need for laboratories in developing countries to determine PCBs and OCPs. Thus, while this review attempts to summarize the current best practices for analysis of PCBs and OCPs, a major focus is the need for low-cost methods that can be easily implemented in developing countries. A “performance based” process is described whereby individual laboratories can adapt methods best suited to their situations. Access to modern capillary gas chromatography (GC) equipment with either electron capture or low-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) detection to separate and quantify OCP/PCBs is essential. However, screening of samples, especially in areas of known use of OCPs or PCBs, could be accomplished with bioanalytical methods such as specific commercially available enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assays and thus this topic is also reviewed. New analytical techniques such two-dimensional GC (2D-GC) and “fast GC” using GC–ECD may be well-suited for broader use in routine PCB/OCP analysis in the near future given their relatively low costs and ability to provide high-resolution separations of PCB/OCPs. Procedures with low environmental impact (SPME, microscale, low solvent use, etc.) are increasingly being used and may be particularly suited to developing countries.