A cost effective, sensitive, and environmentally friendly sample preparation method for determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in solid samples
A simple, cost effective, and yet sensitive sample preparation technique was investigated for determining Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in solid samples. The method comprises ultrasonic extraction, Stir Bar Sorptive Extraction (SBSE), and thermal desorption–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to increase analytical capacity in laboratories. This method required no clean-up, satisfied PAHs recovery, and significantly advances cost performance over conventional extraction methods, such as Soxhlet and Microwave Assisted Extraction (MAE). This study evaluated three operational parameters for ultrasonic extraction: solvent composition, extraction time, and sample load. A standard material, SRM 1649 a (urban dust), was used as the solid sample matrix, and 12 priority PAHs on the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) list were analyzed. Combination of non-polar and polar solvents ameliorated extraction efficiency. Acetone/hexane mixtures of 2:3 and 1:1 (v/v) gave the most satisfactory results: recoveries ranged from 63.3% to 122%. Single composition solvents (methanol, hexane, and dichloromethane) showed fewer recoveries. Comparing 20 min with 60 min sonication, longer sonication diminished extraction efficiencies in general. Furthermore, sample load became a critical factor in certain solvent systems, particularly MeOH. MAE was also compared to the ultrasonic extraction, and results determined that the 20-min ultrasonic extraction using acetone/hexane (2:3, v/v) was as potent as MAE. The SBSE method using 20 mL of 30% alcohol-fortified solution rendered a limit of detection ranging from 1.7 to 32 ng L−1 and a limit of quantitation ranging from 5.8 to 110 ng L−1 for the 16 US EPA PAHs.