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A fast and selective method for the determination of 8 carcinogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in rubber and plastic materials

Abstract: 
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been detected in rubber and plastic components of a number of consumer products such as toys, tools for domestic use, sports equipment, and footwear, with carbon black and extender oils having been identified as principal sources. In response to these findings, the European Union Regulation (EU) No. 1272/2013 was adopted in December 2013, amending entry 50 in Annex XVII to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) directive establishing a restriction on the content of eight individual carcinogenic PAHs in plastic and rubber parts of products supplied to the public. This work proposes a simple, relatively fast, and cost effective method for determining the concentrations of each of these eight carcinogenic PAHs for compliance testing. Existing methodologies were taken as a starting point, improving in particular the extraction and the clean-up procedures. Randall hot extraction and ultrasonic extraction were compared with regard to their extraction efficiency. Randall hot extraction proved to be more efficient (10–40%, depending on PAH). Sample extract clean-up performance was qualitatively assessed for silica-packed columns and molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) solid phase extraction (SPE) cartridges. The use of highly selective MIP-SPE cartridges removed most of the undesired contaminants, highlighting their superiority with regard to traditional, silica-based purification methodologies. The introduction of Randall-hot extraction for sample extraction and MIP-based solid phase extraction cartridges for selective clean-up represents a novel advance compared with previously reported methods in this field. In combination with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC–MS) analyses in selected ion mode, the method was found to be excellent in terms of extraction efficiency, extract purity, and speed.
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