Everything You Wanted to Know About EPA Method 8270 But Were Afraid to Ask

On the surface, EPA Method 8270 seems pretty straightforward.  The first version of this method was published over a decade ago and many environmental labs are processing samples according to the guidelines in this method.  The EPA summarizes the goals of the method in a single sentence on their website:

“This method [is] for analysis of solid, non-drinking water, drinking water and/or wipe samples containing select semi-volatile organic compounds.”

It’s such a simple, general statement, you can’t help but think that this must be a simple, straightforward method.  Unfortunately, it’s a general method, written to include hundreds of compounds and a large handful of sample matrices.  So, when you’re trying to extract your specific compound list in your particular sample matrix, Method 8270 becomes hard to navigate.  A colleague of mine addressed questions about the use of acetone and a carbon cartridge in his post about Method 8270.  In this blog, I’ll outline the extraction methods that are allowed for Method 8270, broken out by sample matrix type.

Extraction from Air Sampling Media

If a lab is extracting their target analytes from an air matrix, they can use Method 3542, which analyzes samples from Method 0010 for the extraction of semi-volatile organic compounds.  Method 0010 involves the removal of semi-volatile compounds prior to incineration as well as emission rates from stationary sources.

Extraction from Water Samples

Water matrices have four different types of extraction methods:

The first is Method 3510 which is for liquid-liquid extractions via a separatory funnel to extract organic compounds within an aqueous matrix.

The second is Method 3511 which is for extracting some semi-volatile and volatile compounds within a water sample via microextraction.

The third is Method 3520 which is for extraction organic compounds from an aqueous matrix via continuous liquid-liquid extraction.

Lastly, the fourth is Method 3535 which uses solid-phase extraction as the means for extracting organic compounds from aqueous wastewater and groundwater samples.  Check out one of our application notes and a previous blog post to read what solid-phase extraction is all about and how it may help your lab!  Using our Horizon 5000 with any of our HLB series Atlantic® Disks in conjunction with our carbon cartridges or our One Pass Atlantic® Disks in conjunction with our carbon cartridges is our solution for extracting 8270 compounds.  One of the most valuable aspects of solid-phase extraction is solvent usage reduction.  Compared to liquid-liquid extractions, the solvent use is significantly less for solid-phase extractions.

Extraction from Soils and Sediments

Soil/sediment samples can be extracted via six different methods:

The first is Method 3540 which is used for extracting semi-volatile and non-volatile organic compounds from waste solids, soil, and sludge via soxhlet extraction.

The second is Method 3541 which is used for extracting organics from waste solids, soil, sludge, and sediment via automated soxhlet extraction.

The third is Method 3545 which is used for extracting compounds from waste solids, soil, sludge, sediment, and clay that are insoluble or slightly soluble in water via pressurized fluid extraction.

The fourth is Method 3546 which extracts the same compounds as Method 3545, but the extraction method uses microwave extraction instead.

The fifth is Method 3550 which uses ultrasonic extraction to collect non-volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds within waste solid, soil, sludge, or sediment matrices.

The sixth is Method 3561 which uses supercritical fluid extraction to extract poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from fly ash, soil, solid-phase extraction media, sediments, and any other solid material that conventional solvents will extract.

Extraction from Waste Samples

The methods used for extracting compounds from waste include all the methods explained above in the soil/sediment section in addition to one more method.

Method 3580 explains the dilution process, prior to cleanup and/or analysis, for waste samples that are not aqueous.  If the sample contains concentrations of organic compounds greater than 20,000 mg/kg and these compounds are soluble in the dilution solvent, then this method can be used for easement of extraction.

As important as it is to perform your extractions (read our app note on SPE for US EPA Method 8270E) carefully and with the right technique, it’s equally important to use an evaporation method that’s reliable and geared toward the solvents and volumes that you produce when doing extractions for Method 8270.  Check out our application note on increasing accuracy and precision in SW-846 Method 8270D.

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