American Society of Civil Engineers

Extraction Method for Analysis of PAHs in Coal-Tar-Contaminated Soils

by Pak-Hing Lee, (Grad. Student, Iowa State Univ., Dept. of Civ. and Constr., Ames, Iowa 50011), Say Kee Ong, M.ASCE, (Asst. Prof., Iowa State Univ., Dept. of Civ. and Constr., Ames, Iowa. E-mail:, Johanshir Golchin, M.ASCE, (Envir. Engr., Iowa Dept. of Natural Resour., Wallace Bldg., Des Moines, Iowa 50319), and G. L. (Sam) Nelson, (Manager, MidAmerican Energy Co., 401 Douglas St., Sioux City, Iowa 51102)

Practice Periodical of Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Waste Management, Vol. 3, No. 4, October 1999, pp. 155-162, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: A direct solvent-extraction method was evaluated to assess its application for the extraction and analysis of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in coal-tar-contaminated soils. Eight individual solvents and two combined solvents were used in a screening test to determine the suitability of different solvents for the direct solvent-extraction method. Based on the extracted concentrations of the Total PAH, noncarcinogenic PAH (N-PAH), and carcinogenic PAH (C-PAH), three different solvents—acetone, ethanol, and methylene chloride— were selected for further investigation by testing these solvents on four coal-tar-contaminated soils and a certified PAH-contaminated soil. The extraction results for the Total PAH and N-PAH concentrations showed that there were no statistical differences for the three solvents at a confidence interval of 95%. However, ethanol gave lower concentrations of C-PAH than acetone and methylene chloride. Fifteen coal-tar-contaminated soil samples from a land farming treatment unit were used to compare the direct solvent-extraction method using acetone as the extraction solvent with the conventional Soxhlet extraction method (EPA Method 3540) and ultrasonic extraction method (EPA Method 3550). The results showed that the direct solvent-extraction method gave higher mean PAH concentrations than the Soxhlet and ultrasonic extraction method and that the direct extraction method was equivalent to the Soxhlet at a confidence interval of 99%. Because of its simplicity of use and its equivalent extraction capability with the Soxhlet extraction method, the direct solvent-extraction method may be used as a techniques for the extraction and analysis of PAHs in contaminated soil.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Mine wastes
Extraction procedures
Soil pollution