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Screening and classifying hazardous waste samples


Introduction
Timely and accurate analysis of hazardous materials is fundamental to environmental protection. In addition to the obvious necessity of identifying a suspected contaminant, a detailed analytical profile can help trace the source of a dangerous material and contribute to selecting the best containment and cleanup strategy.

A substantial body of research has clearly established the efficiency and economy of fluorescence spectroscopy as a technique for characterizing many hazardous substances. One recent effort in this area involved the use of a SPEX FLUOROLOG spectrofluorometer for detecting, classifying, and quantifying samples containing petroleum oils or chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and aromatics.

The project was conceived and carried out by US Army Corps of Engineers affiliates DeLyle Eastwood and Russell Lidberg. Their aim was to enlarge the use of spectroscopic pattern recognition for environmental projects conducted by the Department of Defense under the Defense Environmental Restoration Account. The two researchers successfully applied fluorescence, low-temperature luminescence, and, for comparative purposes, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy to the analysis of hazardous waste samples for sites in Alaska and Kansas. Their work was also intended to augment the library of spectral references available for analysis of petroleum oils and fluorescent hazardous chemicals.

Eastwood and Lidberg used standard emission methods as well as excitation and synchronous scanning techniques at both room and liquid-nitrogen temperatures. With appropriate reference standards and emission methodology, samples can be quantified over a range from 100 ppb to a few ppb, even where extraction is from difficult matrices such as river sediments. The experimental results compiled by Eastwood and Lidberg emphasize how spectrofluorometry can easily accomplish what is mu
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