Critical Fractionation and Analysis of Water and Soil Matrices Using Tuned EPH Specific Silica Gel Cartridges

Poster Presentation

Prepared by A. Pavkovich
Restek Corperation, 110 Benner Circle, Bellefonte, PA, 16823, United States

Contact Information:; 814-353-1300


Concern for the environmental and health effects from exposure to materials from leaking underground storage tanks has led to the development of analytical and sample preparation techniques by several states to address specific needs of their own geographical areas. One of the earliest of these was devised by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. This method is intended for either qualitative identification of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) or for fractionation, detailed analysis, and quantification of both aliphatic and aromatic fractions from site samples of water or soil/sediment matrices [1].

This state method, as well as other similar state methods, presents difficult challenges to laboratories who need to accurately implement techniques employed by the method to effect desirable results, and particularly difficult is the fractionation of the aliphatic and aromatic components. The 5 gram silica gel cartridge specified in the methods needs to be of high quality and consistency in order to achieve adequate separation of the two fractions with minimal interferences.

This work presents a look at the performance of a newly tuned EPH specific silica gel cartridge used to carry out this critical fractionation step required of these EPH specific methods. Several key attributes, such as minimal background extractables, maximum resolving power of aliphatic from aromatic components, and consistent moisture control will be evaluated for their effects on performance.

[1] Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Environmental Analysis, Office of Research and Standards, Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup, Method for the Determination of Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbons (EPH) Revision 1.1, May 2004.