Highlighting the effects of co‐eluting interferences on compound specific stable isotope analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons using comprehensive two‐dimensional gas chromatography

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Gauchotte-Lindsay, Caroline ; McGregor, Laura A. ; Assal, Antoine ; Thomas, Russell ; Kalin, Robert M. (2014)

Accuracy is the most important issue when carrying out compound specific\ud stable isotope analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons extracted from\ud complex samples. It depends on two main factors: the possible isotopic\ud fractionation of the compounds during extraction and the potential co‐elution\ud with interfering compounds with different isotopic signatures. We present here a\ud simplified pressurised liquid extraction method for compound specific stable\ud isotope analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in non‐aqueous\ud phase liquids of coal tar. Samples extracted using the new method and using\ud fractionation on silica gel column were analysed using comprehensive twodimensional\ud gas chromatography. We were able to evaluate the effect of coelution\ud on carbon and hydrogen stable isotope signatures of the 16 US EPA\ud priority PAHs in the coal tars with various proportions of aromatic and aliphatic\ud content. Even in samples that presented a good baseline resolution, the PAHs of\ud interest co‐eluted with other aromatic compounds with a notable effect on their\ud stable isotope values; it demonstrated the necessity to check the quality of all\ud extraction and clean‐up methods (either the simplified pressurized liquid\ud extraction or more traditional labour‐intensive methods) for the more complex\ud samples prior to data interpretation. Additionally, comprehensive twodimensional\ud gas chromatography enabled visualisation of the suspected coelutions\ud for the first time.
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