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Chemosphere 94 (2014) 199202

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Short Communication

Comparison of solvent extraction and solid-phase extraction

for the determination of polychlorinated biphenyls in transformer oil
A.N. Mahindrakar a,, S. Chandra b, L.P. Shinde c
New Custom House Laboratory, Ballard Estate, Mumbai 400 001, Maharashtra, India
Custom House Laboratory, Vasco-Da-Gama 403 803, Goa, India
N.E.S. Science College, Nanded 431 605, Maharashtra, India

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Solid-phase extraction (SPE) of nine polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from transformer oil samples was
Received 9 March 2012 evaluated using octadecyl (CI8)-bonded porous silica. The efciency of SPE of these PCBs was compared
Received in revised form 18 August 2013 with those obtained by solvent extraction with DMSO and hexane. Average recoveries exceeding 95% for
Accepted 2 September 2013
these PCBs were obtained via the SPE method using small cartridges containing 100 mg of 40 pm CI8-
Available online 29 September 2013
bonded porous silica. The average recovery by solvent extraction with DMSO and hexane exceeded
83%. It was concluded that the recoveries and precision for the solvent extraction of PCBs were poorer
than those for the SPE.
2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Solvent extraction
Transformer oil

1. Introduction (USEPA, 1982; ASTM D4059, 2000). In these methods, the oil,
diluted with the appropriate solvent, is treated with acid and/or
One important area of modern environmental analysis is the an adsorbent to remove interferences, and then analyzed by
determination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic GC-ECD. However, the method detection limits (MDLs) of PCBs
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), both of which commonly occur in by these test methods are only 12 mg kg1 because the oil is di-
the environment. They are highly toxic, mutagenic and persistent luted 50100 times to minimize the inuence of the oil during
in the environment, and therefore are on the US Environmental the analytical procedure (Yun-Cheol et al., 2008). PCBs are not
Protection Agency (EPA) list of priority pollutants (Mahindrakar easily separated from oil because the physical and chemical char-
et al., 2012). Poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are chemical com- acteristics of PCBs are very similar to those of mineral oil. The com-
pounds which have been used as dielectric uids in transformers ponents of oil-based liquid wastes co-elute with the PCBs during a
and capacitors, as plasticizers and in hydraulic uids (Berg et al., GC separation and the baseline shifts due to the oil matrix. The key
1998; Bogdevich and Cadocinicov, 2004). PCBs are toxic, and they to lowering the MDL is to effectively remove the remaining oil dur-
accumulate in soil, sediment and biota when they are released into ing the analytical procedure. To remove the oil, a few analytical
the environment. Although most countries have strict regulations methods have been introduced to apply liquidliquid partition
on the use of PCBs (UNEP, 2002), enormous amounts of PCBs did using an appropriate solvent. Although these methods are useful
go into use before they were regulated. Indeed, they are still being in identifying and determining the PCBs in oil, the separation of
used as insulators because devices such as transformers have life- PCBs by liquidliquid extraction (LLE) is dependent on the skill of
times extending several decades. Many countries that have devel- the analysts. To separate PCBs from oil matrix, researchers have
oped a classication system for PCB-containing uids and used partition between non-polar solvent and non-proton polar
materials have considered 50 mg kg1 as the benchmark level for solvent, such as dimethylsulfoxide (Orazio et al., 1989; Larsen
PCB regulation (UNEP, 1999). In accordance with PCB management, et al., 1991; Mahindrakar et al., 2011a,b,c), acetonitrile (Gordon
analytical test methods for determination of PCBs in insulating oil et al., 1987) and dimethylformamide (Lawn and Toffel, 1987). Solid
have been published as ASTM-D4059, EPA-600/4-81-045 and NIST phase extraction (SPE) system is also reported for concentration of
sample (Kot-Wasik et al., 2004; Wolska et al., 2005; Conka et al.,
Corresponding author. Tel.: +91 7698888151; fax: +91 0265 2396080.
2005). This method provides a powerful technique to overcome
E-mail address: (A.N. Mahindrakar).
the drawback of LLE. A comparative study of the SPE technique

0045-6535/$ - see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
200 A.N. Mahindrakar et al. / Chemosphere 94 (2014) 199202

2.3. Samples

The samples of transformer oil were stored in 250 mL

pre-cleaned dark glass bottles with Teon caps at a maximum tem-
perature of 4 C. Moisture determinations were made according to
ASTM D 3976 (Mahindrakar et al., 2011a,b,c). The concentration of
PCBs was calculated on dry weight basis.

2.4. Analytical procedure for Solvent extraction

The analytical procedure was used from the previous work

(Mahindrakar et al., 2011a,b,c), the sample was transferred into a
glass centrifuge tube and 1 mL of 2.5 lg of surrogate standard
pyrene-d10 was added. The rst extraction was carried out by
10 mL DMSO and water (95:5) then repeated the same with 8 mL
and nally 5 mL after keeping the tubes into centrifuge machine
(3500 rpm) for 10 min. Then 10 mL water was added in extraction
portion. This was further extracted with 10 mL hexane, repeated
the same with 8 mL and nally with 5 mL after keeping in centri-
fuge machine for 10 min. The extracted portion was reduced in
rotary evaporator and made up in 5 mL after adding 1.5 lg of inter-
nal standards and nally injected 1 lL into GCMS. The detailed
analytical procedure is shown in Fig. 1.

2.5. Sample cleanup

A variety of substances in oil can be simultaneously extracted

and cause interference in the determination of PCBs by GCMS.
Therefore the extraction was puried using silica gel column. The
clean-up procedure was as follows: The concentrated extracts
were applied to open glass column (0.45 m, 1 cm i.d.) lled with
(from bottom to top) glass wool, silica gel (100200 mesh) and
anhydrous sodium sulfate (2 cm). The extracts were eluted with
the mixture of hexane and acetone (1:1) from silica column, the
Fig. 1. Analytical procedure for determination of PCBs in transformer oil. rst 10 mL of elute were discarded and remaining 25 mL of elute
was collected and reduced the volume in rotary evaporator and

using commercially available cartridges and the conventional sol-

vent extraction method was carried out for nine PCBs in trans-
former oils.

2. Materials and methods

2.1. Reagents

The solvent hexane was HPLC grade, DMSO and sulfuric acid
(98%) was A. R. grade used in the present work. Silica gel
(100200 mesh, SigmaAldrich) activated at 200 C for 6 h and
anhydrous sodium sulfate (A.R. grade) was used in the clean-up
stage. Water was puried with a Milli-Q plus system (Millipore).
Supelclean LC-18 SPE cartridges from Supelco, pre-packed in a
polypropylene housing cartridge containing 100 mg of C18-bonded
porous silica and with a 0.45 pm lter attached, were used.

2.2. Standard solutions

The mixture of PCBs was purchased from AccuStandard

(M-680A). Phenanthrene-d10 and chrysene-d12 from AccuStan-
dard (M-680-IS-10X) and pyrene-d10 from Sigma Aldrich were
used as an internal standards and surrogate standard respectively.
All the solutions were prepared in hexane. Solutions of 0.0156
12.50 mg kg1 were prepared from the stock solution for calibra-
tion of different congeners and 0.3 mg kg1 of internal standard
was added to each. Fig. 2. Analytical procedure for determination of PCBs in transformer oils.
A.N. Mahindrakar et al. / Chemosphere 94 (2014) 199202 201

Table 1
Retention time of PCBs, internal standards.

Structure IUPAC No. Quantitation ion Conrmation ion RT (min) Internal standard used
2 1 188 152 10.28 Phenanthrene-d10
2,3 5 222 152 12.70 Phenanthrene-d10
2,4,5 29 256 186 15.16 Phenanthrene-d10
2,20 ,4,6 50 292 220 15.62 Phenanthrene-d10
2,20 ,3,4,50 87 326 254 23.44 Phenanthrene-d10
2,20 ,4,40 ,5,60 154 360 288 23.96 Phenanthrene-d10
2,20 ,3,40 ,5,6,60 188 394 322 26.55 Chrysene-d12
2,20 ,3,30 ,4,50 ,6,60 201 430 356 32.98 Chrysene-d12
2,20 ,3,30 4,40 ,5,50 ,6,60 209 498 428 45.60 Chrysene-d12
Phenanthrene-d10 188 187 14.16
Chrysene-d12 240 236 32.58

made up in 5 mL after adding 1.5 lg internal standards and nally 250 C (at 2 C min1) to 280 C (at 10 C min1) isothermal for
injected 1 lL into GCMS. 4 min. The injection volume was 1 lL in split less mode. The tem-
perature of ion trap, manifold and transference line was 220 C,
2.6. Analytical procedure for solid phase extraction 50 C and 280 C respectively. The mass spectrometer was used
in SIM mode under electron impact at 70 eV and scan time 1 s.
The sample after giving sulfuric acid treatment was loaded into The retention time, quantiation ions, conrmation ions, different
the pre-conditioned cartridge and then eluted with hexane. The internal standards used for PCBs are shown in Table 1.
eluent was concentrated to about 1 mL on a rotary evaporator.
Then, 0.3 lg of internal standards was added to the sample, and 2.8. Efciency of extraction methods
analysis by GCMS was performed. The detailed analytical proce-
dure is shown in Fig. 2. A 2 g PCBs free transformer oil was spiked with 0.0156 mg kg1-
of each of the nine PCBs standards and subjected to the entire ana-
2.7. Instrumental analysis of PCBs lytical procedure as described above for solvent extraction. This
was repeated nine times and a set of data for the efciency of
The analysis of PCBs was carried out by an integrated system of the extraction method was obtained. Similarly, the extraction ef-
gas chromatography, equipped with automatic injection system ciency of the SPE method was determined by spiking PCBs free
and coupled to a mass spectrometric system with quadruple ion transformer oil, followed by the experimental procedure as de-
trap analyzer. Varian CP-3800 GC, Saturn-2200 mass spectrometer scribed above. This was repeated nine times and a set of data for
with auto injector CP-8410 was used for analysis. The separation of the efciency of the SPE method was obtained.
congeners was done in a 30 m length, 0.25 mm internal diameter
and 0.25 lm lm thickness coated with 5% phenyl 95% meth- 3. Result and discussion
ylpolysiloxane Varian VF-5MS column. Helium was used as the
carrier gas at 9.6 psi pressure and 1 mL min1 ow. The injector Before PCBs analysis, the linear range of MS detector was deter-
was used at constant temperature and 280 C. The initial oven tem- mined (Wells et al., 1992). The detector response was established
perature was 80 C (4 min isothermal) to 180 C (at 20 C min1) to for each PCB containing different number of chlorine atoms. The
precision, calculated as a RSD was less than 10%. Ten replicate
injections of standard solutions (at least two concentration levels)
were injected into GCMS to check system performance and cali-
bration validity. The RSD was generally less than 5%. Limit of quan-
titation (LOQ) of each PCB was on the level 0.4 lg kg1.
Identication of PCBs in the samples was performed by comparison
of chromatograms of puried extracts with those obtained from
standard solutions. This method is based on simultaneous detec-
tion, at corresponding retention time, of chromatographic signals
of the two selected ions for each PCB (Table 1), which are chosen
according to full scan mass spectrum and chromatogram of target
compounds. Peaks were accepted as PCB if they fullled the follow-
ing criteria (Juan et al., 1999): The retention time was within
0.1 min of the retention time of the relevant PCB in the standard.
The ratio between two monitored ions was within satisfactory le-
vel (0.2) of the ratio found for the relevant PCB in the standard.
The TIC of transformer oil without PCBs along with internal stan-
dards and spiked known quantity of PCBs in transformer oil is
shown in Fig. 3. All nine PCBs can be resolved and eluted in a rea-
sonable time by employing the GC conditions stipulated above. The
efciencies of extraction of the each PCB by solvent extraction with
hexane and by the SPE technique are shown in Table 2. Average
recoveries exceeding 95% were obtained by SPE. The standard devi-
Fig. 3. (A) TIC of PCBs free transformer oil with internal standards. (B) TIC of PCBs
(M-680A from AccuStandard, 2.5012.50 mg kg1 hexane) spiked in transformer
ations for the recovery of these PCBs using SPE ranged from 1.5% to
oil, Peaks: (1) PCB 1, (2) PCB 5, (3) phenanthrene-d10, (4) PCB 29, (5) PCB 50, (6) PCB 4.5%. These values are within acceptable limits for reproducible re-
87, (7) PCB 154, (8) PCB 188 (9) chrysene-d12, (10) PCB 201 and (11) PCB 209. sults in quantitative analysis. The recovery data using the solvent
202 A.N. Mahindrakar et al. / Chemosphere 94 (2014) 199202

Table 2 enormous time saving and less analysis cost in comparison with
Recovery of spiked PCBs from transformer oil. solvent extraction.
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