Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are organic compounds that can be highly contaminant. They are found, amongst other places, in soils occupied by metallurgical or pharmaceutical industries and in waters polluted by ships' fuel. Chemist Dani Zuazagoitia has proposed simple techniques for analysing the impact of PAHs on a number of media, based on headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME). He drew up the methodology, prepared it for the pertinent circumstances and applied it in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa. He defended the thesis at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), with the title Fase solidoko mikroerauzketan oinarritutako metodoen garapena hidrokarburo aromatiko poliziklikoen determinaziorako. Aplikazioa eta ebaluazioa ingurumen laginetan (Development of SPMEs for determining PAHs. Application and evaluation in environmental samples).
Mr Zuazagoitia has published a number of articles on his research, the latest being in the United States journal Soil & Sediment Contamination, and entitled Evaluation of soil contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Gipuzkoa (Northern Spain).
Extraction without touching the sample
The HS-SPME procedure for the analysis of samples is a screening method; these analyses provide a rapid response (positive/negative) without wasting tools, time or solvents. With this procedure in concrete, a needle is inserted into the sample container top. This needle contains a fibre that has to be taken out of it on insertion, so that the substance to be analysed is absorbed from the headspace. This space is that between the sample and the cap and information can be obtained from there only in the case of volatile compounds such as PAHs. The procedure of extraction from the headspace enables conserving the fibre in optimum conditions. If it is inserted directly into the sample it can be spoilt due to the large molecules, but using HS-SPME, non-volatile an
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