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An evaluation of field total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) systems

Journal of Hazardous Materials
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0304-3894(00)00328-9
  • Petroleum Hydrocarbons
  • Soil
  • Water
  • Portable Instrument
  • Field Monitoring
  • Chemistry
  • Physics


Abstract An evaluation of several field kits and petroleum hydrocarbon measuring systems was conducted. The field kits were the immunoassay based EnviroGard petroleum fuels in soil test kit (EnviroGard, Millipore Canada, Mississauga, Ont., Canada), the turbidimetric based PetroFlag hydrocarbon test kit for soil (Dexsil, Hamden, CT, USA), a DR/2000 field kit (Hach Company, Loveland CO, USA) employing colorimetric test procedures and a total organic carbon (TOC) analysis instrument (Dohrmann Division, Rosemount Analytical Inc., Santa Clara, CA, USA) using oxidation principles. These procedures were compared to the traditional technique of extraction of the petroleum hydrocarbons using trichlorotrifluoroethane (Freon 113) as the solvent and subsequent infrared (IR) analysis using a portable fixed wavelength analyzer (Buck Scientific, East Norwalk, CT, USA). The EnviroGard kit was affected by the sample matrix. The soil type and the presence or lack thereof specific chemical components affected the capability to detect the petroleum hydrocarbon concentration. The PetroFlag soil test kit tended to generate results higher than the accepted concentration. The IR method was better capable of producing results similar to the expected concentration values of the prepared samples. Results indicate that the total organic carbon analysis technique evaluated is best suited for samples containing dissolved hydrocarbons in water and is not a preferred procedure for water samples containing dispersed or floating oil. At low concentrations of 10 ppm and less, the TOC method and IR method have concentration values within a few parts-per-million (ppm) of each other, however, an examination of the trends in the results for all samples shows no similarity. This would indicate that the traditional extraction and infrared method and the total organic carbon method are not measuring the same parameter. Finally, the colorimetric field kit was capable of quantifying the concentration of oil in water samples within limits. The results from the oil-in-water method built into the unit at the factory were not comparable with analysis carried out by the infrared technique. With specific methods for each oil incorporated into the spectrophotometer, the comparability of data increased significantly. Results generated by the kit are dependent upon the color and amount of the oil in the sample. The kit is best suited for dark colored oils and the water samples with concentrations in the range of 10 to 85 ppm by weight.

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