Rapid, field-portable methods for measuring the concentration of semivolatile organic pollutants are desirable for on-site characterization of contaminated sediments and soils. In addition to providing efficient site assessment capability, rapid characterization methods would also be highly useful at sites undergoing remediation treatments. As an alternative to current methods, supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) has been evaluated for in-the-field coal and petroleum gasification waste site characterization. The gas-like mass transfer properties of supercritical fluids allow more rapid extraction rates and more efficient penetration of the matrix than conventional solvent extractions. The method has proved to be rapid, reproducible, and successful in several field trips.
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