• Application Note

Determination of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Municipal and Industrial Wastewater

Determination of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Municipal and Industrial Wastewater

  • Waters Corporation
Waste water pipe polluting environment

This is an Application Brief and does not contain a detailed Experimental section.


This Application note demonstrates the determination of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in municipal and industrial wastewater.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are one of the most widespread organic pollutants. PAHs are made up of fused aromatic rings and are formed during the combustion of carbon based fuels (wood, coal, diesel), as well as being present in crude oil. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has classified seven PAH compounds as being potentially carcinogenic including benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, chrysene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene, and indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene.


HPLC conditions


Waters Alliance HPLC system with PDA and fluorescence detectors




Waters PAH 4.6 x 250 mm @ 30 °C


20 μL of Supelco Standard EPA 610 (#48743) diluted 1:50 in 40:60 water/acetonitrile

Flow Rate:

1.2 mL/min


UV @ 254 nm and fluorescence using timed programmed wavelengths


Waters Empower software

Sample preparation

Liquid/liquid extraction with MeCl2

Eluent preparation

Filter and degas through a 0.45 μm filter.

A: Water

B: Acetonitrile

Eluent gradient Eluent gradient.

Results and Discussion

Standard chromatogram Standard chromatogram, UV @ 254 nm, 1-20 ppm PAH analytes.
Standard chromatogram Standard chromatogram, fluorescence/programmed wavelengths, 1-20 ppm PAH analytes.
PAH target analytes

1 Fluorescence mode used for detection limit determination, no pre concentration.
Seven replicates per 40 CFR pt. 136 App. B.

2 Regulated compound; action level 0.17 ppb.

PAH target analytes.


  1. The Determination of Biodegradation Products of PAH Using LC-MS/MS: WA20747
  2. PAHs in Drinking Water – Oasis Solution: WA31764.127
  3. Waters PAH Columns Improve Analysis of PAH Compounds: 720000382EN

720002733, August 2008

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