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

Poster Presentation

Prepared by , A. Pavkovich, C. Hilliard, C. Rattray, J. Herrington

Contact Information: [email protected]; 814-353-1300


Since the beginning of the US EPA Underground Storage Tank (UST) program nearly 2 million sub-standard tanks and fuel transportation systems have been closed. During that same time period over 500,000 fuel releases were reported [1]. While the federal government characterizes total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) using EPA Method 8015D, individual states have developed methods for determining toxicity of fuels by separating the more toxic aromatics from the less toxic aliphatic hydrocarbons. One of the earliest of these methods was devised by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. This approach can provide detailed analysis, and quantification of both aliphatic and aromatic fractions from site samples of water or soil/sediment matrices [2]. States that have published methods using fractionation are challenged with proper elution of these petroleum products. The 5-gram silica gel cartridge specified in these methods needs to achieve adequate separation of the two fractions with minimal interferences.
This work demonstrates a tuned EPH specific silica gel cartridge used to carry out this critical fractionation step. 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. Optimized method specific chromatograms will also be presented.

[1] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Center for Environmental Economics, Prevention, Cleanup, and Reuse Benefits from the Federal UST Program, Working Paper # 14-05, November 2014.

[2] 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