Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are one of the priority pollutants measured in atmospheric particles due to their potential health risks to exposed individuals. A miniaturized solvent extraction and cleanup method has been developed for the determination of 14 types of PAHs in air particulate matter (APM) collected through the use of a five-stage stainless steel Berner sampler with aluminum foil as substrates. The analytical method employed sonication of the impacted APM in the aluminum foil substrates with dichloromethane, extract purification through silica cleanup in miniaturized glass columns, and analysis of the PAHs by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The performance characteristics of the method such as linearity, range, detection limits and quantification limits, recovery and precision for each of the 14 PAHs were established using procedures suggested by Eurachem and/or the Association of Official Analytical Chemists. The method has direct advantages, i.e., use of minimal volume of solvents, and non-utilization of disposable silica solid phase extraction cartridges, but with performance characteristics that are within acceptable limits−thus resulting in a low-cost, practical, and reliable protocol that can quantify PAHs in APM.
Keywords: sonication, solvent extraction, PAHs, particulate matter