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TitleIs it clean or contaminated soil? Using petrogenic versus biogenic GC-FID chromatogram patterns to mathematically resolve false petroleum hydrocarbon detections in clean organic soils: A crude oil-spiked peat microcosm experiment
AuthorKelly-Hooper, F; Farwell, A J; Pike, G; Kennedy, J; Wang, Z; Grunsky, E C; Dixon, D G
SourceEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry vol. 32, issue 10, 2013 p. 2197-2206,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20130310
PublisherSociety of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
SubjectsHealth and Safety; fossil fuels; hydrocarbons; soil samples; soils; peat tests; biogenic gas; gas chromatography; Petroleum Hydrocarbon (PHC); biogenic organic compounds (BOCs); contaminated soils; experiences; toxicity
Illustrationstables; gas chromatograms; plots; flow charts; histograms
ProgramManagement, Environmental Geoscience
AbstractThe Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) reference method for the Canada-wide standard (CWS) for
petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) in soil provides chemistry analysis standards and guidelines for the management of contaminated sites.
However, these methods can coextract natural biogenic organic compounds (BOCs) from organic soils, causing false exceedences of
toxicity guidelines. The present 300-d microcosm experiment used CWS PHC tier 1 soil extraction and gas chromatography - flame
ionization detector (GC-FID) analysis to develop a new tier 2 mathematical approach to resolving this problem. Carbon fractions F2 (C10-
C16), F3 (C16 - C34), and F4 (>C34) as well as subfractions F3a (C16 - C22) and F3b (C22 - C34) were studied in peat and sand spiked
once with Federated crude oil. These carbon ranges were also studied in 14 light to heavy crude oils. The F3 range in the clean peat was
dominated by F3b, whereas the crude oils had approximately equal F3a and F3b distributions. The F2 was nondetectable in the clean peat but was a significant component in crude oil. The crude oil–spiked peat had elevated F2 and F3a distributions. The BOC-adjusted PHC F3 calculation estimated the true PHC concentrations in the spiked peat. The F2:F3b ratio of less than 0.10 indicated PHC absence in the clean peat, and the ratio of greater than or equal to 0.10 indicated PHC presence in the spiked peat and sand. Validation studies are required to confirm whether this new tier 2 approach is applicable to real-case scenarios. Potential adoption of this approach could minimize unnecessary ecological disruptions of thousands of peatlands throughout Canada while also saving millions of dollars in management costs.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Spill prevention is a key component of crude oil exploration, extraction and transportation procedures. However, spills can potentially occur during any one or all of these stages. Site-specific PHC soil chemistry data identify locations and concentrations of spilled PHCs so that site remediation can be completed. Our research demonstrates that BOC concentrations in non-contaminated organic peat soils did falsely exceed the CWS PHC soil toxicity criteria. False exceedences of PHC criteria in real situations can result in unnecessary and costly soil remediation and landfill disposal requirements. However, our GC-FID (gas chromatography flame ionization detector) analysis of microcosm soil samples demonstrate that crude oil and organic peat soils have uniquely different carbon distribution patterns which can be used to distinguish and quantify PHC and BOC concentrations in contaminated and non-contaminated soils. This simple mathematical approach can be used to resolve false exceedences of CWS PHC soil criteria in non-contaminated peat soils.