University of Oulu

Towards minimizing measurement uncertainty in total petroleum hydrocarbon determination by GC-FID

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Author: Saari, Eija1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2009
Publish Date: 2009-12-08
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science of the University of Oulu for public defence in Auditorium TA105, Linnanmaa, on 18 December 2009, at 12 noon
Reviewer: Docent Veikko Kitunen
Docent Risto Pöykiö


Despite tightened environmental legislation, spillages of petroleum products remain a serious problem worldwide. The environmental impacts of these spillages are always severe and reliable methods for the identification and quantitative determination of petroleum hydrocarbons in environmental samples are therefore needed. Great improvements in the definition and analysis of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) were finally introduced by international organizations for standardization in 2004. This brought some coherence to the determination and, nowadays, most laboratories seem to employ ISO/DIS 16703:2004, ISO 9377-2:2000 and CEN prEN 14039:2004:E draft international standards for analysing TPH in soil. The implementation of these methods, however, usually fails because the reliability of petroleum hydrocarbon determination has proved to be poor.

This thesis describes the assessment of measurement uncertainty for TPH determination in soil. Chemometric methods were used to both estimate the main uncertainty sources and identify the most significant factors affecting these uncertainty sources. The method used for the determinations was based on gas chromatography utilizing flame ionization detection (GC-FID).

Chemometric methodology applied in estimating measurement uncertainty for TPH determination showed that the measurement uncertainty is in actual fact dominated by the analytical uncertainty. Within the specific concentration range studied, the analytical uncertainty accounted for as much as 68–80% of the measurement uncertainty. The robustness of the analytical method used for petroleum hydrocarbon determination was then studied in more detail. A two-level Plackett-Burman design and a D-optimal design were utilized to assess the main analytical uncertainty sources of the sample treatment and GC determination procedures. It was also found that the matrix-induced systematic error may also significantly reduce the reliability of petroleum hydrocarbon determination.

The results showed that strict implementation of the ISO and CEN draft standards is necessary owing to the method dependence of the analyzed parameter. Care should be taken to ensure that the methods used for petroleum hydrocarbon determination are comprehensively validated, and that routine quality control is carried out in order to ensure that the validation conclusions are applicable in the daily work.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
ISSN-E: 1796-220X
ISBN: 978-951-42-6076-6
ISBN Print: 978-951-42-6075-9
Issue: 544
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2009. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.