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Waste and spill site investigations often involve the need for a significant number of expensive analyses. The most mobile chemical species involved in most of these studies are volatile organic solvents. Often the cost for this portion of the investigation may approach anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the total project cost. There is a clear need to develop surrogate testing protocols for these sites.
The philosophy behind the surrogate testing approach is simple. If one could reliably screen the site rapidly, taking 30 to 100 discrete analyses in a day, it would be possible to determine locations where specimen testing should be conducted. This approach also can be used to rank order randomly selected specimens so that the more meaningful specimens can be analyzed first. While the philosophy is simple, conducting a surrogate testing program needs very careful attention. Maximum specimen throughput must be carefully balanced by attaining the minimum chance for operator error.
Surrogate screening for volatile organics in soil and residues is described. A relatively inexpensive test was developed to allow screening of a large number of specimens for volatile organic solvents to determine locations where more detailed analyses, for example, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) purge and trap techniques, could be used. Preserved specimens are ultrasonically homogenized with organic-free water in a screw-cap vial. A portion is withdrawn and placed in a second vial, where the septum is sealed with mercury, and equilibrated at 70°C (158°F) in an inverted position. A head space specimen is obtained from the vial, and injected onto a gas chromatograph (GC) column run on a fast elute isothermal or temperature program basis. The resulting plot is integrated for total peak areas and compared to standards.
hazardous solid waste, volatile organic analysis, gas chromatography, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, contaminated soils, sludge analysis, organics analysis, surrogate analysis, pollution potential determination, solvents, aromatic hydrocarbons
Vice president/technical director, Roy F. Weston, Inc., Woburn, Mass.
Senior organic chemist, Energy Resources Co., Inc., Cambridge, Mass.