PAH Testing

Pah testing lab
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

What are PAHs?

PAHs are fused aromatic rings starting with naphthalene C10H8 which increase in molecular weight. PAH compounds may also be made up including five membered rings as in Benzo(j)fluoranthene.

What are they commonly found in?

As cited on the U.S. Geological Survey website (

Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) - "PAHs often are byproducts of petroleum processing or combustion. Many of these compounds are highly carcinogenic at relatively low levels." - Eaton and others, 2005

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) - "PAHs are a group of organic contaminants that form from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, such as coal and gasoline. PAHs are an environmental concern because they are toxic to aquatic life and because several are suspected human carcinogens." - Van Metre and others, 1996

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) - "A compound built from two or more benzene rings. Sources of PAHs include fossil fuels and incomplete combustion of organic matter (in auto engines, incinerators, and even forest fires)." - National Research Council, 1994

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) - "PAH compounds are a generally hazardous class of organic compounds found in petroleum and emissions from fossil fuel utilization and conversion processes. PAHs are neutral, nonpolar organic molecules that comprise two or more benzene rings arranged in various configurations ... Members of this class of compounds have been identified as exhibiting toxic and hazardous properties, and for this reason the EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] has included 16 PAHs on its list of priority pollutants to be monitored in water and wastes." - National Research Council, 1997

What are the current regulations limiting PAH content?

1. Category 1 of ZEK 01.4-08 of German ZLS and its amendments (all PAHs listed below)

2. Compounds with an asterisk are on the California Proposition 65 list

Compound CAS-No. EC-No.
Acenaphthene 83-32-9 201-469-6
Acenaphthylene 208-96-8 205-917-1
Anthracene 120-12-7 204-371-1
*Benz[a]anthracene 56-55-3 200-280-6
*Benz[e]acephenanthrylene 205-99-2 205-911-9
*Benzo[a]pyrene 50-32-8 200-028-5
Benzo[e]pyrene 192-97-2 203-806-2
Benzo[ghi]perylene 191-24-2 205-883-8
*Benzo[b]fluoranthene 205-99-2 205-892-7
*Benzo[j]fluoranthene 205-82-3 205-910-3
*Benzo[k]fluoranthene 207-08-9 205-916-6
*Chrysene 218-01-9 205-923-4
*Dibenz[a,h]anthracene 53-70-3 200-181-8
Fluoranthene 206-44-0 205-912-4
Fluorene 86-73-7 201-695-5
*Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene 193-39-5 205-893-2
*Naphthalene 91-20-3 202-049-5
1-Methylnaphthalene 90-12-0 201-966-8
2-Methylnaphthalene 91-57-6 202-078-3
Phenanthrene 85-01-8 201-581-5
Pyrene 129-00-0 204-927-3
How many PAH compounds exist?

There are hundreds of PAHs with higher molecular weights.

What instrumentation is used for PAH analysis?

Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) with a current detection limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb).

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