JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE

First intercomparison study on the analysis of oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (oxy-PAHs) and nitrogen heterocyclic polycyclic aromatic compounds (N-PACs) in contaminated soil

Abstract: 
Oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (oxy-PAHs) and nitrogen heterocyclic polycyclic aromatic compounds (N-PACs) are toxic, highly leachable and often abundant at sites that are also contaminated with PAHs. However, due to lack of regulations and standardized methods for their analysis, they are seldom included in monitoring and risk-assessment programs. This intercomparison study constitutes an important step in the harmonization of the analytical methods currently used, and may also be considered a first step towards the certification of reference materials for these compounds. The results showed that the participants were able to determine oxy-PAHs with accuracy similar to PAHs, with average determined mass fractions agreeing well with the known levels in a spiked soil and acceptable inter- and intra-laboratory precisions for all soils analyzed. For the N-PACs, the results were less satisfactory, and have to be improved by using analytical methods more specifically optimized for these compounds.