--> ABSTRACT: TPH Detection in Groundwater: Identification And Elimination of Positive Interferences, by Dawn A. Zemo and Karen A. Synowiec; #91019 (1996)

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TPH Detection in Groundwater: Identification And Elimination of Positive Interferences

Dawn A. Zemo and Karen A. Synowiec

Groundwater assessment programs frequently require total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) analyses (Methods 8015M and 418.1). TPH analyses are often unreliable indicators of water quality because these methods are not constituent-specific and are vulnerable to significant sources of positive interferences. These positive interferences include: a) non-dissolved petroleum constituents; b) soluble, non-petroleum hydrocarbons (e.g., biodegradation products); and c) turbidity, commonly introduced into water samples during sample collection. In this paper, we show that the portion of a TPH concentration not directly the result of water-soluble petroleum constituents can be attributed solely to these positive interferences. To demonstrate the impact of these interferences, we conduct d a field experiment at a site affected by degraded crude oil. Although TPH was consistently detected in groundwater samples, BTEX was not detected. PNAs were not detected, except for very low concentrations of fluorene (<5 micrograms/liter). Filtering and silica gel cleanup steps were added to sampling and analyses to remove particulates and biogenic by-products. Results showed that filtering lowered the Method 8015M concentrations and reduced the Method 418.1 concentrations to non-detectable. Silica gel cleanup reduced the Method 8015M concentrations to non-detectable. We conclude from this study that the TPH results from groundwater samples are artifacts of positive interferences caused by both particulates and biogenic materials and do not represent dissolved-phase petroleum const tuents.

AAPG Search and Discover Article #91019©1996 AAPG Convention and Exhibition 19-22 May 1996, San Diego, California