Microchimica Acta

, Volume 158, Issue 3–4, pp 261–268 | Cite as

A comparative study of solvent extraction of total petroleum hydrocarbons in soil

Original Paper


Three non-specific methods for the extraction of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) from soil into organic solvent were compared. The techniques used for sample preparation were Soxhlet extraction, closed-vessel microwave-assisted extraction, and CEN shake extraction. The total concentrations of extracted compounds in the boiling point range of C10–C40 were determined by gas chromatography with flame ionization detection. The best recovery (99%) and repeatability (±3%) from standard oil mixtures were obtained with microwave-assisted extraction. However, the different extraction methods exhibited different behaviour when spiked soil samples were extracted. The best repeatability was obtained with CEN shake extraction (±6%) but the repeatability values for Soxhlet and microwave-assisted methods were quite high (>20%). However, the larger uncertainties of the latter extraction methods does not necessarily limit the applicability of these methods to the determination of petroleum hydrocarbons in soil, as in the assessment of soil contamination the expanded uncertainty of the result is usually not limited by analytical uncertainty, but rather by the uncertainty of the primary sampling stage. However, distinctive variation found in the chromatographic profiles illustrates that discretion should be obeyed when chromatograms obtained after application of different extraction methods on petroleum contaminated samples are to be used in the fingerprinting or age dating studies. Otherwise, misleading conclusions concerning the age of spillage could be drawn.

Key words: Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH); GC-FID; extraction recovery; soil matrix; fingerprinting. 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

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