Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): Sediments and Water Analysis

Authored by: Justyna Rogowska , Agata Mechlińska , Lidia Wolska , Jacek Namieśnik

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Unfavorable side effects of different forms of anthropogenic activities can be found anywhere in the world. One of the basic characteristics of pollutants entering marine and ocean waters is their spread and movement in the global ocean. A portion of the substances entering the marine environment is rapidly degraded by chemical processes occurring in the air, sediments, and water, thereby losing their toxic properties. The biggest threat is posed by chemically stable or persistent compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These substances, due to their properties, can be accumulated in the sediments and tissues of marine organisms and then metabolized to more toxic or/and cancerogenic compounds. The harmful impact of these chemicals on living organisms causes a need for constant monitoring of their content in the environment. Analytical research studies focused on determination of PAHs and PCBs in the environmental samples, even though they have been conducted for many years by numerous scientific centers, are not an easy matter. The procedures for PAH and PCB determination in the environmental samples consist of a few or several steps (sampling, isolation, enrichment, purification, final determination), each of which can be a potential source of error. In such a case, the final result of the analysis will be a source of misinformation instead of reliable information. In this entry, the most frequently used techniques for the final determination of PAHs and PCBs in water and sediments are presented. Most of the isolation and enrichment methods are also discussed.

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