EPA Method 508A

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EPA Method 508A:
Screening for Polychlorinated Biphenyls by Perchlorination and Gas Chromatography - Revision 1.0.

A 1-L sample is placed into a separatory funnel and extracted with methylene chloride or one of several optional solvents. The extract is dried, concentrated, and the solvent is exchanged to chloroform. The PCBs are then reacted with antimony pentachloride (SbCl5) (in the presence of an iron catalyst and heat) to form DCB. The DCB is extracted with hexane from the reaction mixture; after the extract is purified, PCBs in the extract are detected by measuring the DCB product using a gas chromatography (GC) system equipped with an electron capture detector (ECD).

This method can be used to screen for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in finished drinking water, raw source water, or drinking water in any treatment stage. This procedure is applicable to samples containing PCBs as single congeners or as complex mixtures such as weathered, intact, or mixtures of commercial Aroclors. The procedure is incapable of identifying the parent PCBs because the original PCBs are chemically converted to a common product, decachlorobiphenyl (DCB). The procedure has only been evaluated using Aroclors and 2-chlorobiphenyl as a source of PCBs.

Methods for the Determination of Organic Compounds in Drinking Water (EPA/600/4-88-039)

(A) Glassware contamination: Thoroughly clean glassware, including baking or solvent rinse.(B) Reagent contamination: Use high purity reagents.(C) Non-PCB-compounds which form DCB: Biphenyl, polyhalogenated biphenyls, hydrogenated biphenyls, and polyhalogenated terphenyls can form DCBs, generating false positives for PCBs.(D) Variable solvents: Use the same solvent for each analysis.

QC Requirements:
Initial demonstration of laboratory capability, initial calibration checks, continuing calibration checks, extract matrix effect evaluation, laboratory reagent blanks (LRB), laboratory fortified blanks (LFBs), and laboratory fortified samples.

Maximum Holding Time:
14 days. Extracts and perchlorinated extracts up to 30 days.



0.5 ug/L (will accurately measure DCB to 5.0 ug/L)

Precision and accuracy values were calculated using 7 replicate analyses of chlorinated tap water (1 liter samples), corrected for source water background. Samples were analyzed on a splitless capillary column. Additional data are available in the method. NOTES: (1) In practice the method determines PCBs as a group. (2) PCBs is a regulatory parameters representing the sum of Aroclors.

MDLs were determined using the standard deviation of replicate analyses of an analyte-fortified reagent water sample multiplied by the t-value for (# of samples - 1) degrees of freedom at the 99% confidence level. Detailed instructions for how MDLs are determined are found at 40 CFR part 136, Appendix B.

Revision Number:
Revision 1.0, 1989

Test Description:
PCBs screening by pe