Determination of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Soils and Solid Waste by Accelerated Solvent Extraction and GC-MS/MS

Advances in Monitoring Persistent, Bioaccumulating and Toxic (PBT) Compounds
Poster Presentation

Presented by C. Shevlin
Prepared by A. Kettle
Thermo Fisher Scientific, 1214 Oakmead Parkway, Sunnyvale, CA, 94085, United States

Contact Information:; 916-747-8406


Aaron Kettle,1 Fabrizio Galbiati,2 , and Luca Teli3

1Thermo Fisher Scientific, 1214 Oakmead Parkway; Sunnyvale, CA 94085, USA;;
2Thermo Fisher Scientific; Reinach, Switzerland; 3 Consulenze Ambientali SpA, Scanzorosciate, Italy

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) belong to a broad family of synthetic organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. In the United States, PCBs were produced from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979. These compounds have a range of toxicity and vary in consistency from thin, light-colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point, and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment; as plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products; in pigments, dyes, and carbonless copy paper; and in many other industrial applications.

Techniques such as Soxhlet (U.S. EPA Method 3540) and sonication (U.S. EPA Method 3550) are presently used for the extraction of PCBs from soil prior to their analytical determination. Those techniques are, however, very labor intensive and suffer from high solvent consumption. Accelerated solvent extraction was developed to meet the new requirements for reducing solvent usage in the preparation of solid samples. With accelerated solvent extraction, extractions can be completed in very short periods of time and with minimal amounts of solvent compared to conventional sample extraction techniques such as Soxhlet and sonication. Although all 209 of the PCB congeners can be synthesized, only about 130 individual congeners have been identified in commercial PCB mixtures at concentrations ≥ 0.05%. The method reported here is applicable for the determination of 32 of the 209 possible PCB congeners in soils, including the dioxin-like PCB (“non-ortho”, “mono-ortho PCB”, and “di-ortho PCB”) with concentrations between 5 and 200 µg/kg expressed on a dry matter basis.