The Application of Solid-Phase Micro-Extraction (SPME) to the Analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)


There are many established extraction techniques regularly used in the isolation and analysis of PAHs and similar organic compounds from various phases. These include Soxhlet or ultrasonic extractions from solids, and liquid-liquid or solid-phase extraction from aqueous samples. However, these methods have some inherent disadvantages; most require large volumes of organic solvents, they can be time consuming and many involve multi-step processes that always present the risk of the loss of some analytes (Zhang et al., 1994). Solid-phase micro-extraction (SPME) is a relatively new technique that has been used with much success in the analysis of a variety of compounds including PAHs. Experiments are being carried out to determine the optimum range of conditions for the extraction of a range of PAHs. Parameters under investigation include temperature, equilibration time, salinity and compound concentration. Presented here are some preliminary experiments into the applicability of SPME for PAH analysis. Further work will investigate the reproducibility of the technique, limits of detection and matrix effects. When an optimised method has been developed the technique will be used in investigations into PAH profiles in sediment cores.

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Correspondence to Amanda J. King.

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King, A.J., Readman, J.W. & Zhou, J.L. The Application of Solid-Phase Micro-Extraction (SPME) to the Analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Environmental Geochemistry and Health 25, 69–75 (2003).

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  • extraction techniques
  • PAHs
  • sediments
  • SPME