Rapid analysis of PAHs in fly ash using thermal desorption and fast GC-TOF-MS

Daozhong Zou, Kunlei Liu, Wei Ping Pan, John T. Riley, Yiqan Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are semivolatile organic compounds that may form as a result of incomplete combustion of organic materials. After they are produced in combustion systems, this class of chemicals can be emitted with flue gas or adsorbed in combustion residues such as fly ash and bed ash. The purpose of this study is to develop a thermal extraction (TE) method for the determination of the 16 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specified priority PAH pollutants in fly ash. The commonly used method for determining PAHs in solid wastes is solvent extraction followed by gas chromatography (GC) or GC-mass spectrometry (MS) analysis. This method is work- and time-intensive and produces solvent waste. In this study, the samples are analyzed using TE and fast GC-time-of-flight (TOF)-MS. The complete process from extraction to analysis can be achieved in less than one hour. The results indicate that the TE-GC-TOF-MS method has good linear range from 1.5 to 60 μg/g for all 16 PAHs. The recoveries for the 16 target PAHs vary between 83% and 94%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-250
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chromatographic Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the partial financial support received from the Visiting Scholar Foundation of the China Ministry of Education. The excellent technical assistance received from the LECO Corporation is sincerely appreciated.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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