Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 101–106 | Cite as

Determination of volatile organic sulfur compounds in contaminated groundwater

  • Ute Dorgerloh
  • Roland Becker
  • Irene Nehls
Original Paper


A practical method for the quantification of total purgeable organic sulfur (POS) in highly contaminated groundwater is described. Volatile organic sulfur compounds (VOSC) are purged from the water samples by a stream of oxygen and combusted. The emerging sulfur dioxide is absorbed in H2O2 and converted to sulfate which is quantified by ion chromatography and reported as mass sulfur equivalent. The overall limit of quantification is 0.03 mg l−1. The content of POS is balanced with the total VOSC determined by GC-AED after liquid–liquid extraction. Separate determination of the non-volatile organic sulfur compounds by direct combustion of the water sample and adsorption to charcoal yielded a mass balance of the total sulfur content. Semi-quantitative GC-MS after purge & trap accumulation revealed that the VOSC mixture is composed of C1–C4 alkyl sulfides. The implementation of the developed methodology for the quantification of VOSC as potential catalyst poison in a cleaning plant for groundwater contaminated with volatile haloorganics (VOX) is presented.


Contamination Remediation Summation parameter Combustion Ion chromatography GC-AED GC-MS 



This study was part of the remedial design of groundwater at an industrial site funded by the Senate of Berlin and the Bundesanstalt für vereinigungsbedingte Sonderaufgaben (BvS, Federal Ministry of Finance). The authors are indebted to Angelika Witt and Dr. Claus Kuhnhardt (BAM) for the measurements and Axel Bernstorff (Harbauer GmbH, Berlin) for the cooperation at the groundwater treatment system.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)BerlinGermany

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