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Posts Tagged ‘PAHs’

PAH Analysis: Expanded Compounds of Concern and Advancements

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

By Lee Wolf, Regulatory Affairs Manager, ALS Environmental – USA

As a class of organic compounds, PAHs are characterized by bonded aromatic rings that do not typically carry other functional groups or branched groups substituted for hydrogen atoms. PAHs occur in fossil fuel materials such as oil, coal, tar and fuels. They are produced as a result of fuel burning. They are also found in products such as burned tobacco, incense, and some plant-based oils. To further understand the sources of PAHs, they may be classified as follows:

  • Petrogenic – These are PAHs derived from petroleum inputs and generally associated with fossil fuels.
  • Pyrogenic – These are PAHs which are derived from combustion sources.
  • Biogenic – These are PAHs formed from natural biological processes.

The toxicity of PAHs is dependent upon the structure or arrangement of aromatic rings. For example, the toxicity of some PAH isomers (with the same formula and number of rings) can vary from being effectively nontoxic to being very toxic. The more toxic or carcinogenic PAHs may be small or large. The USEPA has identified seven PAH compounds as probable human carcinogens.

Read more about PAH Analysis…

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) in Shellfish

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) in Shellfish

Columbia Analytical Services, Inc. has extensive experience testing for low levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) in shellfish. Sensitive and selective techniques were developed over ten years ago and have been refined and improved on a continuing basis. In addition to the analysis for the common parent compounds, levels of the associated alkylated homologs can also be determined.

This analysis is typically performed using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) operated in the Selective Ion Monitoring (SIM) mode. Key to the analytical procedure is proper sample preparation, which begins with shucking, compositing (as appropriate to the project plan), and homogenization via mechanical mixing. The preliminary preparation must be performed under clean laboratory conditions to prevent common PAH contamination. Decontamination of sample preparation equipment is performed and monitored closely to assure clean conditions. The sample homogenate is a homogenous slurry when prepared correctly. The homogenization techniques performed by Columbia Analytical have been inspected and approved by various organizations (e.g. US EPA, other federal government and state regulatory agencies, private industries, consultants, etc.) The data results for these projects were subjected to thorough government, public and private scrutiny.


Total Volatile Organic Compound (TVOC) Measurement for LEED/Green Building Evaluation

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

LEED Testing


Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC) may be evaluated when building designers/managers are pursuing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System for New Construction (LEED-NC) EQ Credit 3.2. The latest LEED-NC guidance document specifies that the maximum allowed concentration of TVOC measured in a building (post construction, pre-occupancy) is 500 µg/m3; the guidance also mentions using the sampling/analytical methods in the US EPA Compendium of Methods for the Determination of Air Pollutants in Indoor Air. However, none of these sampling and analytical methods address TVOC in particular, and thus the existing methods must be modified. In addition, TVOC is not defined (in terms of boiling point range, etc.) in the latest LEED-NC guidance and therefore is left open for interpretation; historically, many definitions of “TVOC” exist in literature.

For TVOC measurement, the analytical technique used must always reference one compound for calibration purposes. All compounds detected are then assumed to have the same response factor as the calibration compound. For instance, handheld instruments are most often calibrated using isobutylene or methane, and laboratory-based methods may reference TVOC as hexane (C6), toluene, or some other chemical species.

In practice, indoor air quality practitioners may use several different techniques for evaluating TVOC in buildings. Each sampling & analytical method has its own benefits and drawbacks, cost implications, and applicability.


GC/MS-Full Scan vs GC/MS-SIM

Friday, February 15th, 2008

GC-MS-Full-Scan-vs-GC-MS-SIMIf you’ve had your laboratory run low-level polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) or other low level analyses, chances are you have heard of Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy- Selective Ion Monitoring (GC/MS-SIM). Over the years clients have asked us “What’s the difference between GC/MS-Full Scan and GC/MS-SIM?” To address this question we must start with the basics. (For our example we will be talking about a standard quadrupole mass spectrometer using electron ionization.)

GC/MS is an instrumental analytical technique comprised of a gas chromatograph and a mass spectrometer. In general, the GC is used to separate complex chemical mixtures into individual components. Once separated, the chemicals can be identified and quantified by the mass spectrometer.