Efficient Quantification of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons and Applications at Two Contaminated Sites


  • Guibo Xie,

  • Michael J. Barcelona


Characterization and remediation of petroleum contamination are complicated issues due to variable product compositions and site conditions. Generic group analytical methods such as total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) methods have played important field screening and regulatory functions for site characterization and cleanup. This study evaluated the application of three TPH methods (a GC/MS method, a spectrometric method EPA 418.1, and a rapid field method PetroFLAG). The results showed that quantification of TPH could be attained efficiently by a combination of rapid field methods (i.e., PetroFLAG) and more sophisticated fraction-specific and target-compound methods. TPH distributions suggested different source release information for two sites with different contaminant mixtures and climate conditions. TPH was also found to correlate with reductive redox capacity (RDC), an important parameter for the design of oxidative remediation schemes. The results indicated that good site specific correlations could be established to better estimate costs of the injection of chemical oxidants if necessary. RDC values varied broadly for both background (83 ˜ 569 meq/kg) and contaminated source (523 ˜ 6044 meq/kg) samples collected from actual sites.