Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 11179–11190 | Cite as

Comparison of extraction techniques for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from lichen biomonitors

  • Leandri Van der Wat
  • Patricia B. C. ForbesEmail author
Research Article


Lichens are useful biomonitors for atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Different sample preparation techniques were explored in this regard, including ultrasound-assisted solvent extraction, microwave-assisted extraction, Soxhlet, and the quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) technique. It was found that a QuEChERS technique using hexane:acetone (1:1, v/v), never reported before for application to lichens, provided the best recoveries of internal standards, the highest total peak area for all PAHs of interest, and %RSDs comparable with the other preparation techniques tested. The optimized sample preparation technique was found to be a comparatively fast method (45 min), with good recoveries (96%), using less solvents and minimal energy consumption. Strong matrix effects were found: both strong enhancement (for the lighter PAHs) and strong suppression (for the heavier PAHs). The use of matrix-matched standards is thus imperative for the accurate determination of PAH concentrations in the lichen samples.

Graphical abstract

“Note: This data is mandatory. Please provide.”


Lichen Biomonitor QuEChERS Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon Sample preparation 



Restek Corporation and Wirsam Scientific are thanked for their support of this research.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF grants 90720 and 93394).

Compliance with ethical standards


Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at are those of the authors and are not necessarily to be attributed to the NRF.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of PretoriaHatfieldSouth Africa

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